ST. PAUL – With just days to go before a March 15 deadline to prevent unnecessary tax increase on every business owner in the state, State Representative Rod Hamilton (R-Mountain Lake) said House Democrats continue to act as a roadblock and have refused to debate legislation that would prevent the tax hike from being implemented.
“There has been no urgency by House Democratic leadership to address this problem,” said Hamilton, who serves as the Republican Lead on the Minnesota House Workforce and Business Development Policy and Finance Committee. “We have a $9.3 billion budget surplus, yet House Democrats seem ready to financially punish Main Street business owners yet again.”
Minnesota needs to replenish its Unemployment Insurance (UI) Trust Fund by more than $1 billion. Hamilton said available state surplus funds could be used for this purpose, as could federal COVID relief funding that totals more than $1 billion. If neither of these pots of money are utilized, the default repayment is tax increases on local business owners by 15% or more.
Last month, Governor Walz’s employment commissioner said March 15 was the deadline for the lawmakers to pass legislation and prevent significant tax increases on Minnesota businesses. Hamilton said the commissioner told the workforce committee that a failure to act would be an “unparalleled circumstance,” “unprecedented,” and would be “extremely difficult and administratively complex and cumbersome” for the State of Minnesota.
Since then, the Minnesota Senate approved a full UI repayment bill on an overwhelming 55-11 bipartisan vote three weeks ago, while House Democrat leadership has done nothing.
Hamilton said business owners are getting nervous as time is running out.
“I am getting calls from very anxious employers asking when the legislature is going to get this done,” Hamilton said. “The reality is House and Senate Republicans, Senate Democrats, Governor Walz, and his administration want the UI problem solved, but at this time House Democrats do not. Until House Democrats stop playing political games, business owners should prepare accordingly.”