Small businesses call for strategic investments in a durable prosperity for Minnesota

Laura Mortenson
Mar 16, 2016

A group of small-business owners kicked off the 2016 Legislative Session with a message for policymakers: Large tax cuts aren’t the answer for them. Instead they want public investments in the building blocks that provide Minnesota with a high-quality workforce, strong infrastructure, and shared prosperity for more hard-working Minnesotans.

Saying large, poorly targeted tax cuts could put at risk a strong economic future for the state, members of Main Street Alliance and MetroIBA held a press conference the opening day of session. They called on legislators to make strategic investments in education, affordable child care and other supports for a solid workforce.

Graphic Small business owners investing in durable prosperityIn contrast, the 2015 House tax bill, which will be up for consideration again in 2016, proposes $2 billion in tax cuts, according to the Minnesota Budget Project. Proposals such as estate tax cuts and repealing the state property tax are poorly targeted and crowd out needed investments. In addition, those tax cuts would be ineffective at spurring economic growth, and legislators only need to look at Kansas as an example. Kansas went all in with sweeping tax cuts in 2013 to spur economic growth. But the tax cuts haven’t delivered, and instead economic growth and income growth in Kansas have slowed.

Holly Hatch-Surisook, co-owner of Sen Yai Sen Lek Thai noodle restaurant, pointed out that the small benefit she would get from a cut to the statewide business property tax she pays would not be enough to impact her business model. By combining her financial resources with others in the form of business property taxes, she said, Minnesota can ensure a more stable and resilient workforce.

Jason Rathe, owner of Field Outdoor Spaces landscape company, emphasized that small businesses like his are part of the fabric of Minnesota’s communities: they live in the community and serve the community. These businesses rely on the investments the state can make to support a high-quality workforce, such as less expensive and more flexible child care.

According to the other business representatives who spoke, broadband infrastructure, high-quality education and affordable health care are investments that would better support broadly shared prosperity throughout the state.

The group is calling on small businesses owners across Minnesota to join them and sign a petition asking legislators to make strategic investments instead of making large, poorly targeted tax cuts.