House passes conference committee tax bill — Gov. Dayton likely to veto

By T.W. Budig, ECM Capitol Reporter

The House passed a conference committee tax bill  Tuesday, May 1, that would freeze an automatic inflator on the statewide business property tax, increase Angel investment credits, provides a tax credit to employers hiring military veterans, among other provisions.

House Tax Committee Chairman Greg Davids, R-Preston, has been lavish in his praise of the tax bill — it will create more jobs than the bonding bill and Vikings stadium bills combined, he’s argued.

“Read the bill!” he urged Democratic critics on the House floor.

Rep. Ann Lenczewski, DFL-Bloomington, House Democratic tax committee lead, offered sharp criticism of the bill likely heading for a veto by Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton, according to an administration official.

Lenczewski styled the bill “fiscal irresponsibility at its highest level.”

Provisions in the bill would create $145 million budget hole in the next spending cycle, bigger budget holes in the future, she said.

Republicans call the legislation a jobs bill, it lacks any provision that could actually quantify the claim, Lenczewski argued.

“There is no accountability for the (jobs) numbers,” she said.

There’s no guarantee a single job will be created by the bill, she argued.

But Davids, taking a tax bill fiscal note and turning it upsidedown, argued on the House floor that while Democrats fret over losses of revenue to the state, the flip side is that businesses are keeping their money and can grow and can hire.

Indeed, Davids lauded the tax bill as anything but a Republican creation, picking out Democratic lawmakers whose bills have been incorporated into the tax bill.

“You’re in, baby,” he said to one Democratic lawmaker.

Other provisions in the tax bill include an increase in the research and development tax credit by 24 percent, an upfront sales tax exemption on capital equipment purchases for all small businesses, property tax relief for homeowners whose property taxes increased by more than 12 percent.

An exemption to holding a referendum in the city of Woodbury for the cost of renovating, improving, expanding, and equipping the Bielenberg Sports Center is provided.

Another provision would create a Greater Minnesota internship program providing grants to businesses for hiring qualified interns in Greater Minnesota.

Dayton explained earlier Tuesday, that he had sent the Republicans a counter proposal on the tax bill that included no financial tails — additional spending in future years.

He again criticized the bill for providing property tax relief to a too narrow a segment of Minnesota.

Additionally, it would create an “enormous” hole in the state budget, he explained.

Dayton refuted Republican charges that his highest priority this session is the Vikings stadium.

“My priority is jobs,” said Dayton.

The conference committee tax bill passed the House on a 73 to 57 vote.

It has not yet hit the Senate floor.