GOP leaders in the Minnesota Legislature turned their attention toward taxes on Saturday.
A House-Senate conference committee finished work late Saturday on a bill that freezes a business property tax levy for businesses, improves the tax exemption for business capital expenditures, expanded the "angel investor" credit to stimulate new businesses, and enacted several other tax changes aimed at helping businesses.
"It is our highest priority -- to get that tax reform to Minnesotans as soon as possible,” said Sen. Julianne Ortman, R-Chanhassen, chair of the Senate Taxes Committee and the Senate’s Deputy Majority Leader.
“This is the bill that could bring everything to an orderly close,” added Rep. Greg Davids, R-Preston, who chairs the House Taxes Committee.
The bill is to come to the floors of the House and Senate on Monday. It was not negotiated with DFL Gov. Mark Dayton, who has objected to tax cuts that would add to the deficit in the next budget cycle.
But the sponsors said they tailored the bill to include provisions that Dayton likes, such as a jobs credit for veterans. They said they hoped it is “signable.” Dayton’s spokeswoman said he is studying the bill.
All day Saturday, GOP leaders were asked what was going to happen to the Vikings stadium bill, which is awaiting floor votes in both houses. But House Speaker Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove, House Majority Leader Matt Dean, R-Dellwood, and Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem, R-Rochester, instead emphasized the importance of passing the tax bill and another that would fund capital projects.
The stadium -- which has roiled the Capitol much of the session -- was downgraded to the B-list on Saturday, with Republican leaders suggesting that action on the tax and capital projects may dictate what they do about the stadium.
None would say the Vikings bill would be denied a floor vote before adjournment, expected early next week; but none would guarantee such a vote either.
Asked when the there would be a vote on the stadium, which has been available for a House floor vote for a week, Zellers said: “When the advocates, whether it be the authors of the bill, the folks that are interested, whether it be business or labor, say that the votes are there, but again, we have other work that we’re doing first and foremost.”
The idea of adjourning on Monday appeared to be slipping on Saturday. Zellers said a day could be added if needed, and Senjem suggested that one or two days were possible.
Dean said the GOP would like to talk about all three major issues – taxes, capital projects and the stadium – at the same time. "Clearly, we are negotiating all three," Dean said.
Zellers would not say whether he will vote for or against the stadium, nor would he say whether a stadium must wait for action on the taxes and bonding issues.