An April statewide survey underwritten by business lobbies found “startling opposition" to legislative proposals to raise business  and gas taxes.

“Minnesotans want our state to be affordable for families and businesses to grow and flourish,” said Doug Loon, president of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce. “High tax rates negatively impact investment, wages, entrepreneurship, and talent retention and recruitment – the very items needed for a strong and growing economy.”  

The survey, sponsored by the Minnesota Chamber and the Minnesota Business Partnership, found that Minnesota voters oppose Gov. Tim Walz’s proposed business tax increases by a nearly 2-to-1 margin, or 60 percent versus 34 percent.

Two-thirds of voters oppose Walz’s 20 cents-per-gallon gas tax increase that would be phased in over time. Walz has indicated an openess to negotiations, although his administrations insists more funding is needed for roads, bridges and transit for reasons of safety and economic growth. Three-quarters of rural Minnesota voters oppose the higher tax.

DFLers have in recent years pushed for an increase in the gas tax, as the most sustainable and reliable funding source for road and bridge maintenance. The state’s current gas tax is the 24th highest in the country, at 28.6 cents-per-gallon. After the proposed increase, which would be phased in over 2020-21, Minnesota’s 48.6-cent gas tax would rank among the highest in the nation.

The gas tax was last increased in 2008.  

The state’s roads earned a D-plus in the latest American Society of Civil Engineers report card. 

In October, an 800-person poll by the Star Tribune and Minnesota Public Radio found 56 percent of respondents supported a 10-cent gas tax increase to build and maintain roads and bridges. The poll did not ask about 20 cents.

“This is not a choice between having a gas tax or not,” Walz said last winter. “It is a choice between living in a state with the best and safest transportation system in the country, or living in a state with crumbling roads and bridges that risk our safety and keep away businesses.”

Minnesotans  also oppose a new payroll tax to fund a state-run paid leave program by a 55 percent to 37 percent margin, according to the survey.

Democrats in the Minnesota House released a tax plan this month that would give relief to most families but raise money overall, especially on the foreign income of Minnesota corporations.The $1.2 billion in new revenue, which faces stiff resistance in the Republican-led Senate, largely is intended to increase the amount of state aid to school districts by 3 percent next year and 2 percent the year after that.

“Our Minnesota-values budget restores tax fairness for Minnesota families while making significant investments in education,” said House Speaker Melissa Hortman of Brooklyn Park.

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