House Tax Chair: Rochester and Olmsted County need to kick in more for Mayo

The chair of the Minnesota House taxes committee says she thinks Rochester and Olmsted County need to kick in more taxes to pay for local improvements as part of the Mayo Clinic’s Destination Medical Center plan.

The Mayo Clinic is asking the state for more than $500 million to help Rochester support the clinic’s $3 billion investment in the area. The Clinic’s plan calls for a portion of future sales, income and property tax revenues to pay for the improvements. But Rep. Ann Lenczewski, DFL-Bloomington, said Rochester and Olmsted County should consider local option sales taxes, a lodging tax, an entertainment tax and a transit tax before asking the state for help.

“You’ve got to put a lot more in the game here before you can look to the state,” Lenczewski said. “I’ve been trying to express that to them. I’m not saying no to everything. You have to show you’re lifting your own weight before you’re ask us for anything.”

Rep. Kim Norton, DFL-Rochester, is the chief author of the Mayo Clinic’s Destination Medical Center plan. She said local option taxes are not an idea Rochester and Olmsted County have discussed.

“There’s been no talk of that at all in our community and I think that will come as a surprise to local citizens,” Norton said. “Before we get too excited about the fact that there seems to be a more positive approach to including DMC in the tax bill, which is good news. It will only be good news if it isn’t too hurtful to my local community.”

Rochester has already committed about $60 million dollars from a local sales tax to pay for improvements related to the Mayo Clinic’s expansion plans.

The House Tax Committee took some action on the bill today. The committee sent the bonding related portions of the bill to the House Capital Investment Committee. Lenczewski said the tax related portions of the bill will be debated in her committee next week.

Lenczewski and Senate Tax Chair Rod Skoe are also asking the Mayo Clinic and Rochester officials to provide specifics on how the money will be spent in Rochester. They sent a letter to Mayo CEO John Noseworthy and Rochester Mayor Ardell Brede asking for the list of projects.

“If you have a kid who says I need $8,.000, I think you’re smart enough to say, for what?,” Lenczewski said. “First they have to show that they need $585 million and when do they need it? No one has seen that detail yet.”

The Senate Tax Committee has yet to hold a hearing on the Mayo bill.

Here’s the letter:

Tax Committee letter to Mayo

  • Gerry Gilbertson MD/JD

    Yet another boondoggle project being proposed to rob the taxpayers of Minnesota out of ~ $600 million dollars. Seems similar to a Vikings stadium or a Twins Stadium … that the voters rejected 15 times … or a University of Minnesota Stadium.

    The People of Minnesota … without voter consent … provide ~ $200 million to the supposed UMN:Mayo Clinic Partnership that was supposed to create science jobs; but rather, nothing was ever created and a slush fund was created to fund existing labs at the UMN and Mayo. The People of Minnesota do not have a voice in the slush fund and NOTHING has ever been produced from this disaster … no new people were hired, no new applications were developed, and there is question if a single peer-reviewed publication was ever completed.

    Will the People of Minnesota have “free” access to the Mayo Clinic with this funding? Will the People of Minnesota have representation on the Board of Directors of the Mayo Clinic/ Will the People of Minnesota have a say in the educational institution of the May Clinic. The simple answer is NO … HELL NO!

    This is a private company that makes a lot of money. The nerve of this institution to think that the People of Minnesota should fund a $600 million dollar unrestricted expansion. There are no science jobs at the Mayo and there will not be a single job created.

    The Mayo is directly responsible for its current situation; from a science perspective they never cleared out the old cob webs from the attic and fell behind much better institutions that have grown substantially in medicine and science.

    In closing, the People of Minnesota should NOT support a single penny of public monies for the Mayo.

    Gerry Gilbertson, M.D./J.D.