How Lawmakers Want To Spend Minnesota’s Surplus

How Lawmakers Want To Spend Minnesota’s Surplus

What does the 2016 legislative session portend for Minnesota businesses?

The 89th Minnesota Legislature kicks off its election-year session in early March with a lot left on its plate from 2015. Lawmakers still need to produce a comprehensive transportation bill, compliance with federal ID laws loom ever larger and MNsure hobbled along for yet another year. Fortunately, the state’s budget surplus grew to nearly $2 billion.

What business-relevant priorities are on key deciders’ wish lists?

Rep. Kurt Daudt (R-Crown), Speaker of the House

  • R&D: Create tax credits to encourage innovation for startups and entrepreneurs.
  • Higher ed: Introduce a student loan credit to keep Minnesotans in the state and encourage other students to move here.
  • Health care: Seek a waiver for small businesses to receive federal tax credits without going through MNsure.
  • Infrastructure: Craft a long-term transportation bill using surplus dollars, bonding and redirecting sales taxes from rental cars, vehicle leases and auto parts. Increased funding for rural broadband rollout.

Rep. Paul Thissen (DFL-Minneapolis), House Minority Leader

  • R&D: Use budget surplus to fund innovations in biosciences, water resources and medical technology via a public-private partnership.
  • Infrastructure: Pass a comprehensive transportation package that does not rely primarily on borrowing or redirecting funds that affect education or health care.
  • Workforce training: Invest in higher education to give future workers the skills employers are seeking.
  • Red tape: Make it easier for small business to interact with the state.

Sen. David Hann (R-Eden Prairie), Senate Minority Leader

  • Taxes: Use surplus dollars to cut personal and business taxes to spur job growth.
  • Education: Improve student outcomes / achievement gap with more choice for families.
  • Infrastructure: Pass a bill that improves roads and bridges without raising the gas tax.

Sen. Tom Bakk (DFL-Cook), Senate Majority Leader, speaking for DFL Caucus

  • Taxes: Property tax relief for businesses and other property owners. There will certainly be a conversation about cabins this session.
  • Transportation: Our caucus will have a hard time passing any transportation bill that doesn’t include transit. There is still support for a gas tax and a sense of urgency to address our crumbling infrastructure.
  • Infrastructure: There is a good deal of interest in maintaining existing resources, many of which are in desperate need of repairs.

Minnesota Chamber of Commerce

  • Taxes: Reduce statewide general property tax (and remove automatic adjustments), increase research and development credits and change the state’s estate tax to conform to federal thresholds.
  • Workplace: Prevent cities, counties and townships from enacting local minimum wage and benefit ordinances. Remove minimum wage inflation indexing that begins in 2018.
  • Infrastructure: Invest in roads, bridges and transit through existing transportation-related revenues from the state’s general fund. Link new transit funding to efficiency and reforms.
  • Compliance: Modify Minnesota Human Rights Act/Americans with Disabilities Act to prevent businesses from being sued for violations without prior notice and allow at least 90 days to remedy the situation.