Kurt Zellers: GOP offers its best ideas for jobs

/ 1 April 2012 / jennifer

Kurt Zellers, Star Tribune Commentary, April 1, 2012 –

The governor should take them seriously. After all, he invited them.

Even though Minnesota’s economy is showing signs of lifting out of the recession, too many of us still know a friend, family member or neighbor looking for work. I do; Democrats do, and I am willing to bet that readers do, too. Next time you see someone looking for a job, ask them if politicians fighting over what constitutes a “jobs bill” helps them one bit. My guess is the answer you hear will be a resounding “no!”

But that’s where Gov. Mark Dayton and the Democrats in the Minnesota Legislature have taken the debate during the 2012 session. After inviting us in his State of the State address to “take your best ideas and my best ideas and turn them into jobs!”

Dayton has spent the last six weeks refusing to admit that any of the bills passed by the Legislature are designed to encourage job growth. Bills to lower business property taxes — an area Minnesota rates especially poor in — crack down on abusive lawsuits, further avoid unnecessary permitting delays and improve education in areas that we know will boost student achievement have been labeled “election ploys” supported by “wrongdoers” by the governor.

Not one unemployed Minnesotan is helped by this campaign-style attack rhetoric. Let’s set it aside and put the good of our state ahead of our goals for Election Day. Let’s get back to our best ideas, the governor’s best ideas and a shared desire for a productive session.

We have, as Dayton invited us to, offered our best ideas. They are grounded in our fundamental belief that you don’t pass one bill, claim you created a specific number of jobs and call your work complete. Doing so ignores so many of the factors that, together, create Minnesota’s economic climate.

Our best ideas include ones that address the concerns that current and prospective businesses have about Minnesota’s long-term competitiveness. They want to see that we can develop a highly skilled workforce, so we are continuing education reforms that do the most to boost student performance, like ending the antiquated “last in, first out” law that punishes effective teachers.

They want to see even the slightest bit of recognition that Minnesota’s taxes are more punishing than the states and nations we compete with for jobs. That’s why our jobs plan lowers the property tax the state imposes on small businesses.

Our best ideas are also set up to ensure that the benefits from programs that help to encourage job growth are felt throughout Minnesota. The Angel Investment Tax Credit, Research & Development Tax Credit, Internship Grant Program and business property tax exemption all carry provisions that benefit Greater Minnesota. We also provide a permanent tax credit for hiring veterans who are disabled or unemployed or who receive food stamps.

We also look to innovative new ideas with a program that allows small, startup companies in Minnesota to sell their net operating loss to larger, profitable companies to provide them with an immediate fusion of cash stay afloat and create jobs while waiting for government approval of their technologies.

These are some of our best ideas we submit to the governor for consideration. The governor put forward a bonding package that we feel borrows too much; Republicans made a counterproposal that keeps the borrowing to an affordable level and focuses on fixing existing state infrastructure, including our State Capitol, which is dangerously close to falling into disrepair.

Let’s work on finding a way to take these ideas, find an agreement we can each support and have a productive end to this legislative session. If we put today’s jobs agenda before November’s election agenda, we can tell those unemployed Minnesotans that we put them first and that more Minnesota jobs are on the way.


Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove, is speaker of the Minnesota House.