Legislative Priorities for Real Minnesota
During our Brainerd Lakes Chamber recent Eggs ‘N’ Issues breakfast, area legislators shared their ideas on what they can do to help create jobs and control spending in order to grow our economy. The conversation was encouraging. Our newly elected legislators were sharing ideas that have been supported by business leaders for some time now. Government needs to remove the obstacles that are preventing businesses from creating jobs. The area legislators talked in support of reducing the permitting process to allow entrepreneurs to grow business; of creating tax incentives for businesses creating jobs; and about budgeting like a business.
District 4 Sen.-elect John Carlson, R-Bemidji, summed up what business has advocated for some time – fund the needs and then prioritize the wants, all while budgeting like a business. The spending cannot exceed the available revenue!
Chamber members shaped the discussion during the breakfast meeting by bringing their questions to the legislators. Topics addressed included statewide economic development, capital equipment sales tax procedures, health insurance costs, energy regulations, poverty, and the government role in supporting entrepreneurism and innovation in business.
Discussion also addressed inequities between rural and metro regions in Minnesota. District 12A Rep. John Ward, DFL-Brainerd, said a lot of the legislators work well together across the aisle. He said often there is more conflict resulting from rural vs. metro issues than between political parties. When talking about local government aid, he said a more fair and equitable formula is needed to address metro vs. “real Minnesota” concerns. Not rural, not outstate, but “real Minnesota. We are real Minnesota.”
The Brainerd Lakes Chamber and our business members hope legislators use a business model to balance the state budget. As I shared with the legislators, the Brainerd Lakes Chamber Small Business Policy Survey revealed that the majority of respondents do not favor a tax increase to balance the state budget. The majority – 78 percent – of respondents want legislators to cut government spending. They – 76 percent of respondents – believe redesigning government services is necessary. Only 26 percent supported raising taxes, which may have been suggested in combination with cutting spending. (Respondents could choose more than one solution.) Time will tell how our legislators choose to balance the state budget.
Let’s hope the New Year brings economic growth, to the Brainerd Lakes Area, encouraged through thoughtful decision-making by our legislators.