Dayton turned his back on compromise, Minnesotans

  • Article by: JULIANNE ORTMAN
  • Updated: May 17, 2012 - 8:45 PM

Bipartisan deal in Legislature offered needed tax relief and jobs.

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House Majority Leader Matt Dean and Senate Deputy Majority Leader Julianne Ortman.

Photo: Glen Stubbe, Star Tribune

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Gov. Mark Dayton had not one but two chances to provide tax relief for families, homeowners, job creators and job seekers in this year's legislative session. Republicans worked hard to compromise with the governor and to earn his support. But with a stroke of his veto pen, Dayton turned his back on Minnesotans who needed relief from the state.

Even more troubling, in the final month of session the governor did not even bother to show up at meetings with the Senate majority leader and the Tax Committee chairs for discussions on the tax relief bill.

The last meeting the governor attended with Republican leaders and the Tax Committee chairs was on April 17. In that meeting, he proposed a tax bill with $50 million in tax reduction tails for the next biennium, 2014-15.

Using those requests from the governor, the authors revised the bill -- resulting in overall session fiscal tails of $42 million for 2014-15. This compromise fit well under the governor's proposed number, and was less than two-tenths of 1 percent of the $36 billion biennial budget.

The compromise bill was created to help stimulate economic activity, which would generate revenue that could erase the fiscal tails. It seems that Dayton is fine with spending tails as long as they result from bonding, but not if they fund tax relief and private-sector activity.

After all of the compromise and consideration for the governor's priorities, it is disappointing and disheartening to have him veto our compromise jobs-and-tax-relief bill. The final bill had bipartisan support in the House and the Senate and contained provisions brought forward by Republicans and Democrats:

• Access to low-interest loans for 16,000 students and 1,000 first-time home buyers, along with Small Business Administration loans.

• Sales tax exemptions for Minnesota nursing homes.

• Incentives for hiring veterans.

• Funds for the dwindling Minnesota Investment Fund used to recruit new businesses to the state.

•Economic-development projects for 39 Minnesota cities.

•The Mall of America expansion project (estimated to create 10,000 jobs).

•Angel investor, research and development, and data center tax credits that would make Minnesota a more attractive place to invest, and more competitive nationally.

•A one-year freeze on business property tax increases for businesses located in Minnesota (they would still pay local property taxes).

•An upfront capital equipment sales tax exemption to encourage new orders and manufacturing of capital equipment for companies with up to 50 employees.

The economic-development and job-growth opportunities contained in this bipartisan bill were tossed in the trash by a no-show governor. Minnesota deserves better. We have a Legislature that has been willing to compromise. But we can't move our state forward with a governor who is unwilling to compromise, who fails to show up for meetings and who vetoes bipartisan bills.

Gov. Dayton demonstrated that he cares more about political talking points than about the best interests of Minnesotans and our economic future.

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Julianne Ortman, R-Chanhassen, is a member of the Minnesota Senate and chair of the taxes committee.

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