By Jennifer Brooks
Star Tribune staff writer
Gov. Mark Dayton unveiled his jobs bill Wednesday, proposing millions in infrastructure projects, tax credits for employers willing to hire unemployed Minnesotans, tax credits for business expansion and another attempt to tax internet retail sales.
The economy is improving and the state is running a small budget surplus this year, but Dayton noted that 175,000 Minnesotans remain out of work. The plan he said, flanked by DFL House and Senate leaders, is “targeted toward putting them back to work in Minnesota.”
Dayton and DFL leaders plan to pay for the $35 million price tag of the new-hire tax credits by closing foreign corporation tax loopholes and charging tax on Internet sales.
The governor’s proposals include:
• A $3,000 tax credit for each unemployed Minnesota worker, veteran or recent college graduate hired for a full-time job in 2011 and a $1,500-per-hire tax credit for new hires in the first six months of 2012. The $35 million initiative could fund up to 10,000 new job, the DFL estimates.
• A proposed $775 million bonding bill for new infrastructure projects. It would include $20 million for projects requested by the Department of Employment and Economic Development to help businesses expand in Minnesota.
• $10 million for the Minnesota Investment Fund to attract new businesses to Minnesota. Last year, the DFL claims, the fund helped attract $46 million in private investment and 218 new jobs.
• Internet Sales Tax. Right now, critics say, Minnesota’s brick-and-mortar stores like Best Buy are acting like storefronts for Internet retailers like Amazon.com. Customers come in, browse the merchandise, and then order online. Taxing internet sales – something retailers like Amazon have fought tooth and nail in other states – could raise an estimated $3.5 million in 2013, by DFL estimates.
Republicans have generally rejected the idea of closing tax loopholes, so Dayton's proposal could face tough opposition in the Legislature.