TwinWest Chamber of Commerce Releases 2019 Business Agenda
By Deb McMillan, VP, Public Policy, TwinWest Chamber of Commerce
As we head into 2019, TwinWest will once again be representing business interests at the Minnesota legislature. The 2019 Legislative session convened on January 8, 2019 with 39 new legislators—11 of whom are in the TwinWest region—and a new administration led by Governor-elect, Tim Walz. Democrats will control both the House and the Governor’s office, while Republicans maintain a one-seat majority in the Senate.
For the sixth consecutive year, the State’s general fund has a forecasted surplus. With a projected surplus in excess of $1.5 billion, and budget reserves at historic highs, the Governor and the Legislature should identify priorities and fund them with the available revenue.
We have been working with our members and our partners to develop policies that reflect the business community’s priority issues. Issues of importance for the business community are those that allow them to compete on a global basis for both business and talent.
Tax Competitiveness for Employers and Employees
Minnesota ranks in the top 10 for taxpayers in several categories. Tax rates for individuals and businesses that pay their business taxes through their personal returns rank fifth highest in the nation. Minnesota’s corporate tax rate is third highest in the nation and Minnesota’s business property taxes also rank in the top ten. The overall state and local tax burden per capita is ninth highest in the nation. TwinWest Chamber supports using the revenues realized from federal conformity to make Minnesota more competitive. A thoughtful, deliberate move to get Minnesota out of the top ten in high tax states would encourage investment and make Minnesota more affordable. Both are critical to attracting and retaining both job providers and top talent to the state.
Preserve Private Sector Employers’ Benefits
Minnesota employers are nationally recognized as providing great places to work. The labor market is tight, and employers need flexibility to provide the benefits that allow them to attract and retain the best workforce for their business. TwinWest Chamber of Commerce recognizes that all workers and workplaces are different and therefore, we support allowing private sector employers flexibility to create their own benefit packages that reflect the needs of their business and the needs of their employees. We oppose one-size-fits-all mandates and a patchwork of city to city regulatory systems that ignore the varied industries, sizes, and types of businesses that make up Minnesota’s economy.
Dedication of Transportation Related Revenue to Transportation Needs
Because transportation is a critical and important function of government, TwinWest supports dedicating a larger share of the general fund revenues to transportation needs. In 2017, legislation was passed to capture and direct 100% of sales taxes generated by car rentals and 60% of the sales of auto parts to transportation infrastructure. TwinWest will be advocating to capture 100% of those sales taxes for transportation related expenditures.
Finding enough workers with the right skills to keep Minnesota’s economy moving forward remains one of the major challenges for Minnesota businesses. In addition to TwinWest’s efforts to improve the talent pipeline by helping connect students and businesses in the TwinWest region through our Opportunity Connect platform and our other talent initiatives, we’ll support legislation that creates greater flexibility for existing workforce-related funding and programs to better meet the needs of Minnesota’s economy.
Call to Action
Every business policy initiative we work on has a human story. We encourage you to share those stories with us and with legislators. It is important for policy makers to understand and anticipate the impact and consequences of proposed policy. TwinWest staff is available to help provide a conduit between you, your business, and policy makers either through personal interaction or by arranging a tour of your business. Business tours help elected officials better understand your operation and provide stories they can relate to their colleagues. We encourage your involvement in the process to help shape policy outcomes. And, as always, we welcome your comments and feedback on the issues we are working on and those that are still emerging.