A recent letter to the editor in the Brainerd Dispatch claimed that I voted to repeal the mortgage interest tax deduction. As is often the unfortunate case in politics, this claim is another example of half-truths and half the story. In 2009, I voted in favor of an Omnibus Tax Bill that would have eliminated the mortgage interest deduction and other regressive deductions — but, the letter writer left out the fact that in the same bill I voted to replace those deductions with tax credits that would have been more favorable to lower income and middle-class families. Then-Governor Tim Pawlenty vetoed the bill.
The new mortgage interest credit would have been beneficial to more homeowners, because lower-income homeowners often do not itemize their taxes, meaning they are not eligible to use the deduction. In fact, less than one-third of Minnesotans <http://www.startribune.com/politics/87179777.html?refer=y> use the deduction and a 2011 study <http://www.livescience.com/13658-mortgage-interest-deduction-taxes.html> found that 75 percent of the tax relief from the federal mortgage interest deduction went to people making over $100,000 a year. A mortgage interest credit would have gone to a homeowner whether they itemize or not — helping more lower-income and middle-class Minnesotans.
On all of the issues, I have worked hard to represent all of my constituents, whether you have supported me or not. Many of you who disagree with me on some issues have been kind enough to thank me for my hard work on issues where we do agree. I continually try to reach across the aisle and avoid the “politics as usual” that we’ve all grown so tired of.
With an important election in two months and the rhetoric about to heat up, I encourage you to stay informed and watch out for half-truths and half the story. You deserve an honest election with a discussion of the issues that matter to you, to our community, and to our state.
State Representative John Ward