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Senate GOP introduces first bill — on jobs; DFL’s Bakk objects

The Senate Republican caucus unveiled its first bill of the legislative session, SF 1, and it’s about “job creation.” DFL Minority Leader Tom Bakk wasn’t thrilled.
At a news conference today, Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch and Deputy Majority Lead

The Senate Republican caucus unveiled its first bill of the legislative session, SF 1, and it’s about “job creation.” DFL Minority Leader Tom Bakk wasn’t thrilled.

At a news conference today, Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch and Deputy Majority Leader Geoff Michel were joined by just about every member of their GOP caucus.  

Key planks of the jobs bill: a 50 percent reduction in the business income tax, phased in over six years; a roll back and freeze on business property taxes statewide; and unspecified “regulatory relief.”

The goal, Michel said, was to lower costs for “job creators” and to spur growth.

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Michel estimated the cost in tax relief to the state’s budget at about $200 million per biennium. He said the GOP-led Senate would make up for that shortfall with spedning cuts and “government redesign.”

He said the idea was to “plant a flag at every border” of the state to encourage businesses to move to Minnesota and to discourage current business owners from fleeing the state.

But Bakk responded quickly and firmly in a statement: “Our number one priority this session is creating jobs and positioning Minnesota for long-term prosperity. We are absolutely committed to working with Gov. Dayton and legislative Republicans on getting Minnesotans back to work.

“However, I believe that cutting corporate taxes is a poor tool to spur economic growth.  Not only is it extremely costly to our state, it provides absolutely no guarantee it will create jobs or help Minnesota’s small businesses and entrepreneurs. All this bill does is shift a greater share of the state’s tax burden onto working families.”

Michel acknowledged that this opening salvo was “a start … this is the kickoff,” and that such a package would have to wind its way through a series of committees before reaching full form.

Besides Bakk, clearly, Gov. Mark Dayton will have something to say about the tax breaks; Dayton campaigned on — and has spoken recently — of seeking a progressive tax system and a balanced approach to reducing the state’s $6.2 billion deficit.