I want to thank you for all of your feedback concerning Governor Dayton’s budget proposal. I’ve heard from many businesses owner who have deep concerns with how the governor’s proposed tax increases would affect their businesses.
The business-to-business tax would perhaps be the most harmful to the small businesses in our community. If a small business contracts with another business to receive a service (accounting, payroll, legal, etc.) that exchange will be taxed. Not only will the cost of doing business go up, but consumers will likely pay more as businesses will be forced to pass on the cost of the tax onto them.
Raising the income tax rate from 7.85% to 9.85% on personal income tax rates on the top tier will also be destructive for small businesses. In Minnesota, 92% of small businesses (S-corps, LLCs, Partnerships) file their tax returns through personal income tax rates. Much of money being taxed in this top income bracket is actually small business's retained earnings or profit that stays in the business. These funds are used to purchase capital, hire employees and carry that business into the next fiscal year. The result of these dramatic tax increases on small businesses may result in layoffs, closures, or relocation to neighboring states.
I’ve also heard from business owners in our district who worry the minimum wage will force them out of business completely. This was a concern that Sue Sweicichowski, owner of Cornerstone Café & Catering in Monticello, expressed to me when she came as my guest to the State of the State address. While raising the minimum wage may be well intentioned, I am deeply concerned that a 45% increase in the minimum wage coupled with a historic $3.7 billion in tax increases could lead to hyper-inflation, increased unemployment, and a faltering economy.
Another deeply concerning proposal being put forth by a DFL legislator is a 10% solar energy mandate. Right now, less than 1% of our energy comes from solar energy as it remains expensive and unreliable. A 10% solar energy mandate could make the cost of energy skyrocket for families and businesses in Minnesota.
As a small business owner whose business is just starting to come back to life, I can tell you that these proposals are out of step with our neighboring states and I fear they may make our businesses uncompetitive. When I vote on legislation in committee and on the House floor, I make my voting decisions with the perspective of a small business owner.
On Friday morning, I attended the Monticello Chamber of Commerce Government Relations meeting. During the meeting, we listened to a podcast from the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce. I was honored when Ben Gerber, a Chamber official who deals with energy and labor issues, thanked me personally for my work raising awareness on how raising the minimum wage would hurt businesses.
Next, I toured Discovery Elementary School in Buffalo. It was a wonderful visit reading a book to 1st and 2nd graders (thanks for the special pledge done in sign language), talking to student leaders and to a group of students who had just published their books.
After that, I toured Tatanka Elementary in Buffalo. It is a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) magnet school. Thank you, Principal Don Metzler, for introducing me to so many and telling me all about your exciting new school. My children attended nine years ago, much has changed, but the kids still sled on the hill at recess. Thanks again to Superintendent Scott Thielman for setting up the tours and introducing me to board members and the informative discussion over lunch.
Later, I had coffee with Buffalo City Councilwoman Terri Lachemeirer to get her input on how cities will be affected by Governor Dayton’s budget proposal.
After coffee, I toured a REM group home in Buffalo. Thank you Lori Benson, Program Director and Lisa Thelen, Regional Director, for the invitation and great work you and your staff do for the home residents. I plan to let my colleagues know how devastating it would be to REM and the people they care for if minimum wage were to go up to $10.55 plus inflation indexed. REM is just barely able to keep their doors open now and have a very difficult time with high staff turnover.
Also on Friday, Senator Bruce Anderson and I met with the Figge family, owners of Prairie River Home Care on Friday and discussed the tremendous and disastrous effect of HF588, Rep. Atkin's bill, which would mandate nurse ratios in hospitals. With the current nursing shortage, there would not be enough nurses to care for people in their own homes, staff nursing homes or group homes for people with disabilities.
Thank you to Hennepin County Commissioner Michael Potter, Virgil Hawkins of Buffalo, Daniel Giese of Maple Lake, Paul O’Donnell of Monticello, and Morgan and Andrew Krause of Buffalo for meeting with me last week.
As the legislative session moves forward, I am interested in your feedback. Please feel free to contact me by e-mail at Rep.Marion.ONeill@House.MN or contact my office at 651-296-5063. You can also send me mail to my office address: 229 State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55155. Please feel free to share this e-mail with your family, friends, and neighbors so they can sign up and stay in touch.