How Lawmakers Want To Spend Minnesota’s Surplus
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.