Minnesota businesses could save millions of dollars in property taxes under a new initiative unveiled Monday by Republican Senate leaders.
Senate Republicans want to phase out business property taxes over the next five years, potentially saving companies $50 million the first year alone.
The change could add to the state’s expected budget deficit, but Republicans said it is necessary to get Minnesota businesses hiring again. Republicans also proposed a moratorium on new regulations that they say hinder Minnesota businesses.
“What we’ve been hearing from job creators is pretty loud and pretty clear. It is government, please stop, give us a time out,” said Deputy Senate Majority Leader Geoff Michel, R-Edina. “Minnesota job creators are tired and stressed out from this economy, this recession and government on all levels.”
He said governments keep changing rules and regulations, which creates business-crippling uncertainty.
Democrats dismissed the plan has a rehash of old ideas with doubful outcomes.
"I was underwhelmed by what I heard from Republican legislative leaders today as they presented their economic development agenda," said Sen. David Tomassoni, DFL-Chisholm. "The most notable element of their plan is a recycled attempt to cut corporate taxes with no guarantee businesses would use those tax cuts to create jobs, and no explanation for how they’d pay for a corporate tax cut during the worst financial crisis in our state’s history."
Republicans announced their priorities for the upcoming legislative session the day before DFL Gov. Mark Dayton is scheduled to hold a statewide jobs summit in downtown St. Paul. Dayton is bringing together leading civic and business leader to discuss how to rejuvenate the state’s stagnant economy.
When the legislative convenes in late January, Republicans also will try to create a new state committee to review small business regulations, hire an executive-level position to speed environmental permitting and expand the state commission that will evaluate the effectiveness of state agencies.
Dayton and Republican legislative leaders have been touring the state separately to find the best ways to stimulate the economy.
Republican said they’ve been told by business leaders that stability and predictably from government are chief concerns.
Michel said political leaders need to focus on a key question: “What can we do to help job creators feel more certainty about Minnesota?”
Dayton has been open to speeding regulatory review in the past, but any plans to reduce business taxes could face steep opposition from Democrats.
Legislators are bracing for a budget forecast next month expected to show a deficit and Minnesotans are still reeling from the elimination of a property tax credit of several hundred dollars for most homeowners. With the budget facing more red ink, legislators could get locked in a bitter battle between resurrecting the tax credit for homeowners or cutting taxes for businesses.
Meanwhile, a group called the Minnesota Transportation Alliance came to the Capitol touting their proposal to kick-start the economy: $30 billion in new transportation funding between now and 2040.
“The future of Minnesota will be shaped by the quality of our transportation system,” said Margaret Donahoe, executive director of the Minnesota Transportation Alliance.
The group produced a 110-page report outlining the state’s needs for roads, bridges and ports.
“The cost of delaying these projects further will risk putting our state behind further in the economic recovery,” she said.