Tuesday morning, GOP legislators, led by House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt and Senate Minority Leader David Hann, visited the St. Cloud Regional Airport to discuss the just-ended session. After brief presentations by Daudt and Hann, they opened things up for questions.

Rep. Daudt first noted that the DFL legislature raised taxes by “$2.1 billion” and fees by another $300,000,000. Sen. Hann and Rep. Daudt both talked about not needing that tax increase to solve a $627,000,000 deficit. Both legislators spoke about the need to spend money more wisely, with Sen. Hann noting that the DFL didn’t include any reforms in their budget or policy bills.

When asked about the $400,000,000 in property tax relief, Rep. Jennifer Loon verified that most of the relief came in the form of increased payments to cities and counties. When asked if LGA payment increases helped cities like Duluth, St. Paul and Minneapolis just spend more rather than provide property tax relief, Sen. Hann and Rep. Daudt said that there’s a history of that. Adding to that, Sen. John Pederson said that, while the DFL was screaming about people’s property taxes going up, St. Cloud’s property taxes were actually going down.

Another piece of legislation that was brought up was the energy bill. The bill passed in the House but, ultimately, it didn’t pass in the Senate. Still, it’s almost a guarantee that the DFL will bring it up early in 2014. Sen. Pederson said that one of the Senate DFL’s selling points for the legislation was that it would lower electric rates. Republicans questioned that talking point by asking why northern Minnesota needed the carve-out if their rates were dropping.

The most chilling part of the press conference was hearing Teresa Bohnen, the president of the St. Cloud Chamber of Commerce talk about how businesses are hurting and that the tax bill won’t help with that. Afterwards, Rep. Daudt said that businesses are planning ahead for the tax increases. He then said that that’s why job growth is slowing down. Rep. Daudt said that we won’t see a spike in unemployment but that we’re likely to see job creation stagnate.

The other point they made was that, while the middle class won’t get directly hit with tax increases, the middle class will get hit with higher priced products as a result of the tax increases on “the rich.” Rep. Jeff Howe said that the warehousing tax will trigger higher prices, adding that that tax increase “wasn’t well thought out.”

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