House Republicans pushed through a “smokin’ hot” package of corporate tax cuts Tuesday.
The tax bill has been the GOP caucus’s top priority – nudging ahead of the Vikings stadium and a bonding bill in the end-of-session scheduling line. The final version of the tax package hammered out by a House and Senate conference committee includes a statewide freeze on business property taxes, as well as a raft of tax breaks, including incentives for investors who offer seed money to new startups, and tax credits to encourage businesses to hire veterans.
“I think we’ve put together a very, very good bill that will move Minnesota forward in the area of job creation and tax relief for all Minnesotans,” said House Taxes Committee Chairma Greg Davids, R-Preston, introducing the final version of what he called the “smokin’ hot tax bill” to his colleagues.
The bill passed the House on a vote of 73-57, over the strenuous objections of Democrats, who were considerably less enthusiastic about the plan.
Gov. Mark Dayton had offered an alternate tax cut plan of his own, but told reporters he never heard back from the GOP before the bill hit the House floor. The governor was particularly leery of the property tax freeze, which he said would cost the state $149 million in the next biennium.
“It’s just fundamentally unfair to future legislatures and governors,” Dayton said, adding that the focus on business tax cuts was itself unfair. “Homeowners have been socked with higher taxes, renters, senior citizens, farmers and businesses. They’re all deserving of property tax relief.”
During floor debate, House Democrats complained about offering tax cuts to corporations over citizens, and worried that the money for the tax breaks would end up coming out of the state reserves.
“It’s smokin’ hot only because it’s going to be burning a hole in our state budget,” said Minority Leader Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis. “Is there anything that you would put ahead of corporations? Because I have not seen it in the 16 months that you have been in charge of the legislature.”
Rep. Steve Gottwalt, R-St. Cloud, accused the DFL of waging “class warfare on the House floor.”
“These are job creators, these are our Main Street businesses who are sick and tired…of the Democrat mantra of how they are somehow the evil wealthy, that they’re somehow taking advantage of Minnesota,” he said. “They create the jobs that put the food on the table; that create the resources for all the do-gooding you want to do.”