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Don Davis, Forum News Service, Published March 30 2010

Minnesota jobs bill passes

ST. PAUL – Up to 12,000 people could find new jobs in small businesses, rejuvenating historic buildings and other Minnesota business segments, supporters of a Legislature-passed jobs bill claim.

“People are waiting for this to happen,” House Tax Chairwoman Ann Lenczewski, DFL-Bloomington, said during Monday debate.

Lenczewski said the bill could send 5,000 to 12,000 people back to work in a tough economy.

The House passed the bill 112-20 and the Senate 58-3.

The bill provides tax credits to people investing in small businesses and old buildings by eliminating a $30 million program originally designed to help poor Minnesotans afford gasoline tax increases.

Tax credits would be established to encourage business development at businesses supported by “angel investors,” a Mall of America expansion, repairing historic buildings, keeping a Ford plant in St. Paul, building wind turbine manufacturing plants in Duluth and on the Iron Range, increasing research and development, and recreation and tourism in northwestern Minnesota.

Angel investor tax credits have been sought for a long time. The investors are called “angels” because they provide money to fund promising business ideas.

The bill has the support of many business-related organizations.

Sen. Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, lamented the state’s unemployment numbers and the expiration of hundreds of Minnesota families’ unemployment benefits in recent weeks. He said the bill is necessary to help get many of those people back to work.

Bakk, the Senate Tax Committee chairman, recounted the modest beginnings of two Minnesota companies, 3M and Medtronic, and said the angel investment tax credit could help entrepreneurs start the next great Minnesota companies.

“There are a group of very creative, innovative Minnesotans who have ideas that may lead to new, successful startups in Minnesota,” Bakk said. “I do believe the angel credit could lead to the creation of the next Medtronic or 3M here in Minnesota.”

Gov. Tim Pawlenty sent House leaders a letter saying he expects to sign the bill, primarily because it includes the angel investor tax credit he has wanted.

“While I continue to believe we must do much more to make Minnesota attractive to job creators, this bill is at least a step in the right direction,” Pawlenty wrote, adding that he still would like to trim business taxes.


Andrew Tellijohn contributed to this story

Don Davis reports for Forum Communications Co.