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  • Legislative Breakfast….on a stick

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    Each year at the State Fair, the House of Representatives conducts a poll on a number of different issues that have been discussed at the legislature the previous year.  We, here at TwinWest, thought it might be interesting to compare the results of the state fair attendees to our TwinWest Legislative Breakfast attendees.  Our poll, like that of the House of Representatives, is unscientific and not statistically accurate, but it does provide a peek into the hearts and minds of Minnesotans; or at least those willing to put down their pronto pup long enough to answer a few questions. 
    The House poll consisted of 12 questions.  We narrowed it down to 5 questions that have a significant impact on the budget, are important to businesses, and could fit in the time we had allotted. 
    Question #1
    Do you support publicly funded preschool for all 4-year-olds? 
    State Fair Poll:  Yes-59.7%; No- 32.6%; Undecided/No Opinion-7.6%
    TwinWest Poll:  Yes-44.7%; No-55.3%
    This is a priority for the Governor and he has been very clear about that; and this priority has a high price tag.  The state will raise taxes to pay for the teachers and each district will have to find a way to fund the space and outfit classrooms to accommodate all the new students; many districts have already acknowledged what a challenge that will be.  Scholarships targeted to those most in need have the biggest payback for students and taxpayers.
    Should Social Security Income be exempt from Minnesota’s individual income tax?
    State Fair Poll:  Yes-67.9%; No-18.8%; Undecided/No Opinion-13.3%
    TwinWest Poll:  Yes-54.3%; No-45.7%
    Minnesota winters can be difficult and as one of the few states in the nation to tax social security income, it gives retiring baby boomers one more reason to seek residence elsewhere.  Pair that with Minnesota’s estate tax and it would appear that Minnesota places little value on retaining our senior population.
    Question #3
    Minnesota’s minimum wage for large employers increased to $9 per hour, and $7.25 per hour for small employers on August 1st.  Should employers be permitted to pay lower hourly wages to tipped workers, such as restaurant wait staff, if tips bring their pay above $12 per hour?
    State Fair Poll:  Yes-37.5%; No-35.3%; Undecided/No Opinion-8.1%
    TwinWest Poll:  Yes:  82.1%; No-17.9%
    Minnesota’s minimum wage will top out at $9.50/hour next summer and will rise automatically each year with the rate of inflation.  Having wages, paid by private business, on auto pilot provides much uncertainty for businesses and is poor public policy.  This policy has no regard for the market, the available workforce or the economy.  Allowing a credit for tipped employees may be one way to save jobs and some businesses.  I would also encourage a repeal of the automatic escalator on minimum wage.    

    Question #4
    Should seniority be the primary factor when determining teacher layoffs?
    State Fair Poll:  Yes-18.0%; No-73.4%; Undecided/No Opinion-8.6%
    TwinWest Poll:  Yes-13.2%; No-86.8%
    This issue resonates strongly with Minnesotans and speaks to the fact that we all understand that delivering the desired results should be rewarded and there are consequences for poor job performance, without regard to length of employment. 
    Question #5
    Should the existing quarter-cent Twin Cities metropolitan area sales tax that funds mass transit projects, such as express bus routes and light rail, be increased to a full cent?
    State Fair Poll:  Yes-55.7%; No- 35.3%; Undecided/No Opinion-9.1%
    TwinWest Poll:  Yes-55.6%; No-44.4%
    The downside to this question is it lacks the context necessary to consider such a large tax increase. Estimates are that every quarter cent on the sales tax raises an addition $110 million annually; so the three quarter cent increase would raise an additional $330 million each year.  What are we buying with that money and how are we measuring the economic impact or benefit of such a large investment?  There are improvements needed to the current system and of course, there are on-going maintenance and operations costs to consider as well, so the current quarter cent tax might not be enough, but I think the answer lies somewhere in the middle.
    And, finally, I know you are all curious on how the favorite state fair food poll turned out, so here are the results:
    Pronto Pup: 38.2%
    Cheese Curds: 23.5%
    Sweet Martha’s Cookies: 26.5%
    Mini Donuts:  11.8%
    Read the full results of the state fair poll here
    As always, I’m interested in your thoughts on these issues as we prepare our legislative priorities for the upcoming year. 
    Deb McMillan, Director of Government Affairs
    TwinWest Chamber of Commerce
    763-450-2225 | deb@twinwest.com
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