Friday, January 29, 2010

Coffee With the Legislators

At the Chamber's "Coffee With the Legislators" on 1/28/10, an interesting legislative session was described and discussed. Newly elected Senator Mike Parry was out of town, and unable to attend the event, so Rep. Kory Kath presented the outlook starting with the bonding bill.

Even years represent perhaps the 'easier' of the two legislative sessions because it's not a budget year. Despite that, a bonding bill impacts the budget and this year the experts, including Rep. Kath, believe the bill will end up being near $1B. In addition to the bonding bill, several other topics were covered:

Education-there was a funding shift last year that forced school districts to borrow money until the state paid them, now the state is holding back payments to schools in the short term to cover additional shortfalls. The hope here is that the state will receive Federal 'Race to the Top' grant money to off set some of the dollar shortfalls our schools are seeing.

Angel Investor Tax Credit-Rep. Kath brought this topic up and it was timely. Recently we know of at least 3 businesses who've left Minnesota for Wisconsin because of investor tax credits. We believe MN should have this incentive to keep small business growing here versus moving to neighboring states.

Nuclear Ban-Rep. Kath is open to discussing nuclear for power generation in Minnesota, however he said he'll need to see the numbers that show it is economically the right thing to do. The Chamber supports repealing the nuclear ban.

Capital Equipment tax credit-allowing businesses to take the tax credit at the time of a capital purchase, versus the current law that forces businesses to wait until they file their taxes. Also an item the Chamber wants passed this session.

Tax Structure Change-Rep. Kath believes our reliance on property taxes has grown so much that it is beginning to be unfairly balanced. Structural change of the tax system is something he is open to, but he understands the reality politically is that this concept has small chance right now.

The 2010 legislature starts on February 4th. We'll keep you up to date on the top business issues and ask for your voice when needed.