MANKATO — The fundamental budget message to Minnesota lawmakers from the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce has been consistent through the years: For a bunch of reasons, higher taxes are bad for business and bad for the state.
For the last decade, the chamber had staunch no-new-tax allies either in the governor’s office during Tim Pawlenty’s two terms or in the House and Senate when Republicans held the majority the past two years.
Now Democrats are running the state Capitol with DFL Gov. Mark Dayton midway through his four-year term and Democrats taking control of the House and Senate in the Nov. 6 election. Did the chamber considering altering it’s approach? Maybe switch to something like: We know you’re going to raise some taxes, but please don’t raise these particular taxes because it would be bad for business and bad for the state.
That’s not the plan. At least, not yet, said Jim Pumarlo, communications director for the statewide organization of business owners.
“We’re not ready to kind of accede and say, ‘OK, we’re going to have all this new revenue,’” said Pumarlo during a visit Wednesday to Mankato.
So, the chamber’s position remains that the state’s budget shortfall — $1.1 billion for the next two-year budget cycle — should be dealt with through spending cuts. Tax reform is a good idea, but it should be done to improve how and where taxes are collected — not to increase revenue.
“What we hear from our members, it’s still a fragile economy out there and we don’t think it’s the right time to raise taxes on businesses or families,” Pumarlo said.
Dayton’s budget would boost income taxes on the wealthiest 2 percent of Minnesotans, raise cigarette taxes nearly $1 a pack, expand the sales tax to many services and close certain corporate tax loopholes/incentives.