As small-business owners, we do best when our entire community does better, and we reject President Donald Trump’s assertions on his recent trip to Minnesota that the driving concern of our business community is tax reduction.
We believe in public investments in the well-being of all our people. We depend on an educated workforce that has access to affordable health care, child care and transportation, which enables our customers and employees to enter the job market and get to work. Our business success is dependent on the financial security and well-being of people who work for us and buy our products.
Tax cuts that favor the wealthiest among us are harming our small businesses. And that’s why we strongly support the overall budget-and-tax direction proposed by Gov. Tim Walz and the Minnesota House majority.
We implore broad-minded Minnesotans to see through the predictable and cynical anti-government refrain being orchestrated by a few wealthy individuals and ideological extremists, and join us in reminding our legislators that investments for the public good, with our taxes, are essential for the long-term success of our businesses and our state.
A strong and steady economic recovery was well underway long before Trump took office. His tax cuts did not reach millions of people; they provided what he described as “rocket fuel” mostly to those already at the very top, while also ballooning our national debt. Recent corporate profits are not reflected in wage growth for those in the middle and bottom, which might explain why national opinion polls show that Americans disapprove of the Trump tax cuts.
The Walz budget and tax package actually helps correct the unfairness of the federal windfall for big business and wealthy individuals.
For starters, the Walz budget is balanced, as it must be by law, and it better prepares us for an inevitable cyclical downturn in the economy and revenue shortages. The latest official Price of Government projection by the Minnesota Management and Budget office shows that total state-local revenues as a percent of income will be stable or declining through 2023.
If we fail to invest now, we’ll continue to discover what’s truly unaffordable: the rising inequalities in our state and national economy, where necessities like housing and health care place an ever-growing burden on working families.
By fully funding our schools, reducing child care and health care costs for working families, and by addressing racial and economic disparities, this budget invests in what we value in our state.
We are not alone in the business community. Many responsible local business associations in Minnesota actually have been leading the charge for more investment in road and transportation systems, broadband and other infrastructure, Local Government Aid, environmental action, and improved educational services, from early childhood to specialized career training, to address our workforce shortages.
It’s important to note, too, that for decades, Minnesota has consistently outperformed states and regions with lower taxes and skimpy public services, on measures of both business growth and quality of life.
Consensus for the Walz budget also has been building among leaders of philanthropic and nonprofit organizations. Broad support for preserving the health-care provider tax and expanding eligibility for our state’s highly regarded MinnesotaCare program is just one example. This program helps about 90,000 working Minnesotans whose employers simply can’t afford to provide health care, including many small businesses. It gives entrepreneurs the support they need to start companies by allowing them to compete on an even playing field with large corporations when it comes to health-care benefits.
Gov. Walz and House majority members were transparent about their budget plans when they ran last fall, and they won decisively. Of course, the political pendulum swings, but it’s instructive that no statewide candidate running on an anti-tax or government-cutting agenda has won in Minnesota since Gov. Tim Pawlenty in 2006.
This speaks to our distinctive Minnesota ethic reasserting itself. And we are proud, too, of our state’s reputation for enlightened and progressive business leadership, exemplified by our membership in the Main Street Alliance and our quest for a more equitable prosperity. We hope the Legislature preserves this healthy tradition.
Danny Schwartzman is the owner of Common Roots Cafe in Minneapolis. Joel Vikre is the co-owner of Vikre Distillery in Duluth. Both are members of the Minnesota chapter of the Main Street Alliance.