MANKATO — Yes, the Minnesota Legislature raised taxes on businesses this session. And yes, many of those business owners are worried this will make them less competitive.
But a Wednesday breakfast organized by Greater Mankato Growth to summarize the session didn't focus on those taxes. Instead, a St. Paul lobbyist and three local legislators told the crowd what businesses could expect to get for their money.
Michael Miller, a senior lobbyist with Flaherty and Hood, said "Despite the tax increases, this was a fairly decent session for business."
One of those tax increases, a new 9.85 percent income tax tier — levied on unmarried individuals making $150,000 per year and on couples filing jointly at $250,000 — will be charged mostly on Twin Cities residents because most of the state's wealthy live there, he said. And some of that money will be coming back to Mankato businesses in the form of $200 million in property tax relief to cities, counties and schools.
Businesses also saw the creation of two new programs aimed to help them grow, but the results may turn out to be mixed for Greater Minnesota, said Miller, who lobbies for the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities.
One of them, the Greater Minnesota Internship Tax Credit, would reward companies for hiring college interns by paying part of their salary, up to $2,000 per person. The state allocated $2 million a year toward the program.
The other, called the Job Creation Fund, is Gov. Mark Dayton's successor to JOBZ. Miller called it an improvement, but worries that its high threshold for job creation will exclude Greater Minnesota, which has fewer large businesses. Few Mankato businesses, for example, will be able to take advantage of the bill's sales tax exemption for equipment because it requires a company to spend $25 million and create 75 jobs. Other incentives require fewer jobs to be created.