How would you solve the budget crunch?

Published 1:32 pm Saturday, May 14, 2011

Column: Capitol Conversations, by Rich Murray

Not long ago, I distributed my 2011 legislative survey to gather public input on topics I am likely to vote on before the end of this session. Hundreds of you responded, and I thought you might be interested in reading how you and your neighbors would solve some of the state’s problems.

When asked how we should solve our budget deficit, 53 percent said we should cut government spending, 44 percnt wanted a combination of spending cuts and tax increases, and only 3 percent would raise taxes.

Rich Murray, House Report

When asked how state government could best improve the economy, 52 percent selected reducing business taxes to encourage entrepreneurs to create new jobs; 32 percent chose reducing income taxes so individuals and families can keep more of their money; 8 percent wanted to borrow money for construction projects, and another 8 percent would like to raise taxes in order to better fund or expand state government programs.

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Regarding a new Vikings stadium, 56 percent of respondents felt the issue is not important, while 26 percent said it was somewhat important, and 18 percent think it’s very important.

In addition, 80 percent want to allow slot machines to be installed at Canterbury Park, 74 percent support providing identification before a citizen is allowed to vote, 84 percent want Minnesota’s government to pass business tax relief and incentives to encourage investment and job creation; and 93 percent support initiatives to reduce the size and cost of state government.

As your representative, I always appreciate knowing how the residents of Freeborn and Mower counties feel about legislative issues. My thanks to everyone who shared their opinions and responded to this questionnaire.

Supporting PROFIT

With Minnesota desperately looking to offer more Minnesotans a job, I am co-authoring a plan that could spur job growth throughout our state. The plan is called Performance Rewards on Fast Investment legislation, otherwise known as PROFIT.

The Job Opportunity Building Zones law that was developed several years back was a huge success, as it created 665 good-paying jobs in the Albert Lea area alone. But with the program scheduled to expire in 2015, few businesses are likely to apply for the program and it’s clear we need something new to replace it.

Some JOBZ provisions would be included in the PROFIT bill while other new ideas are also added, including an initiative that would allow the program to operate statewide — not just in rural Minnesota.

The PROFIT program would provide tax abatement to companies looking to expand and put more Minnesotans to work. Manufacturing, warehousing, information technology, distribution, finance, insurance or professional or technical services businesses would qualify for the program.

In exchange for receiving a refund of property, sales and motor vehicle taxes paid in order to operate as a PROFIT business, the company must create at least 10 new full-time jobs, earning at least $35,000 in annual wages for businesses located in the metro area, or at least $27,000 in rural Minnesota. The business must also invest at least $500,000 in a construction project that includes a new, expanded or remodeled facility within two years of signing the agreement.

The binding agreement would take place between the company and the local government, which would determine how long the business would receive PROFIT benefits, up to a maximum of 12 years.

Another notable provision of the bill centers on the company reaching its goals. For example, if the PROFIT business created 25 percent fewer jobs than it promised, then its tax benefits would be reduced by 25 percent.

Our area is in a constant battle with Iowa and other neighboring states to entice businesses to expand and create jobs. I believe the PROFIT program would help Minnesota level the playing field and become a needed replacement for the JOBZ law.

‘Crunch Time at the Capitol’

Not long ago, I was asked to do an interview to discuss what’s happening at the State Capitol. If you’d like to watch it over the Internet, search for Rep. Rich Murray on and look for the “Crunch Time at the Capitol” video, or visit this link:

Have a question or concern? Constituents in District 27A including communities in Freeborn and Mower counties can write to me at 439 State Office Building, 100 Rev Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55155. Or call me at 651-296-8216 or email me at

Rich Murray, R-Albert Lea, is the state representative for House District 27A.