House passes tax bill

The Minnesota House has passed a wide ranging bill that increases taxes by $2 billion.

Supporters say the bill is needed to erase the state’s budget deficit and spend more money on education, job programs, nursing homes and property tax relief.

The plan increases income taxes on top earners, raises the cigarette tax and applies the sales tax to some business services.

The House passed the bill 69-65. Four Democrats; Rep. Ron Erhardt of Edina, Laurie Halverson of Eagan, Paul Rosenthal of Edina and Yvonne Selcer of Minnetonka, joined every Republican in voting against the bill.

Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen, R-Glencoe, said he’s worried the bill will slow the state’s economic recovery.

“I think we’re headed in the wrong direction,” Gruenhagen said. “We should be looking at having government live within its means and streamlining government and not just cointinuing to raise taxes at exponential rates when our private sector is growing at a much slower rate.”

But Democrats say there are plenty of things to like about the bill. They say it provides property tax relief and tax breaks aimed at bolstering economic development.

Rep. Tina Liebling, DFL-Rochester, said the bill will actually create jobs because it includes money to help Rochester handle a proposed expansion by the Mayo Clinic that could bring up to 35,000 jobs to Minnesota over the next twenty years.

“This is a tax bill that has more jobs in it than any bill that I have seen in this house in all of the years that I’ve been here,” she said.

The Senate still has to pass the Tax bill. The Legislature has until Midnight tonight to finish all of its work on a two-year $38 billion budget.