“Businesses value quality of life, but there’s a limit.”
“Minnesota is not business friendly.”
“Enough is enough.”
“We have to live within our means.”
“We cannot tax our way out of this.”
“The direction we’re heading is a disgrace to Minnesotans.”
These are some of the comments that were shared at a legislative listening session held in Winona recently, which I organized for a couple of reasons.
First, most folks who were not affiliated with programs benefitting from state government funding were not allowed to speak at the first listening session, so I wanted to give them a chance to voice their concerns. Second, House and Senate Democrats have now released an outline for a budget solving plan - and both of them include $4 billion or more in undetermined tax increases.
This news had most of the dozens who attended the session outraged.
For more than two hours, area residents gave their impressions of the runaway growth in government spending, the lack of government fiscal discipline that will bring huge burdens to our children, and the budget plans being brought forward by House and Senate Democrats. The overwhelming majority said those tax and spend ideas have them angry and concerned for their future.
Business owners in our area are extremely troubled. One told of how 140 employees were recently laid off in Lewiston, a move that is devastating for a small community. Another explained how hundreds in Winona were also given their walking papers, and another said he understands why Wisconsin and South Dakota keep attempting to lure our employers to relocate through radio advertising and business relocation incentives.
With a 9.8% corporate tax rate, the business environment in Minnesota is already unfriendly. Make that rate any higher and state government can kiss many more jobs goodbye, as a poor economy combined with higher taxes is a recipe for disaster.
In the coming weeks, we will finally see which taxes the Democrats want to raise. If this listening session is any indication, I’m anticipating many more angry phone calls and emails telling me to oppose their budget plan.