The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

June 26, 2013

Chamber recaps '13 Legislature

Message: Despite taxes, an OK year for business


Miller said the governor has agreed to help change the program if, after the first year, Greater Minnesota isn't seeing much benefit.

In addition, the Legislature approved a sales tax exemption on construction materials for Greater Minnesotans business expansions. There was also a $346.5 million reduction in unemployment insurance statewide, he said.

An effort to create a job training bill similar to North Dakota's didn't pass.

When Jonathan Zierdt, president and CEO of Greater Mankato Growth, asked the legislators for their key highlights and disappointments he heard the same answer a few different ways.

Rep. Clark Johnson, Rep. Kathy Brynaert and Sen. Kathy Sheran each said their biggest disappointment was the lack of a bonding bill.

"It's a bit of a tragedy. It's really wrong," Johnson, DFL-North Mankato, said, referring to the failure of a measure to renovate and expand the Minnesota Security Hospital in St. Peter, home for the mentally ill and dangerous.

Businessman Fred Lutz asked about the prospects for a bonding bill next year. He was told that the presence of a bill is a near certainty, but Republicans may not support a bill large enough to accommodate civic center expansions like Mankato's.

Brynaert, DFL-Mankato, and Johnson agreed that their biggest success was the funding of education, while Sheran, DFL-Mankato, added that the state budget was stabilized.

Zierdt didn't spare the legislators the tough questions. He asked what they thought about the proposed minimum wage increase as well as the business-to-business taxes that were passed, both of which were generally opposed by business interests.

"Minimum wage will be back on the floor," Brynaert said. If a business pays only minimum wage, the state has to pick up the slack with welfare programs, she said.

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