Sen. George B. Sinner, Published March 02 2013
Letter: Just who gets that tax break?Prominent corporate lobby spokesmen Andy Peterson and Pat Finken have recently written commentaries in The Forum criticizing the North Dakota Democratic-NPL Party, and particularly me, for our supposed lack of support for the business community simply because we oppose the Republican super-majority’s efforts to cut taxes for out-of-state corporations.
Let’s review the facts from state government on Senate Bill 2156 that Peterson, Finken and the Republican super-majority support:
- The bill as passed provides an estimated
$50 million of tax relief to “C” corporations, which are typically large companies whose income stays almost entirely in the organization.
- In North Dakota, there are approximately 4,500 companies that filed corporate tax returns these past few years.
- Of those 4,500 companies, a mere 10 of them received nearly 46 percent of all tax relief in 2011, and all of them were out-of- state corporations. That means 10 out-of-state companies are set to receive nearly $23 million after earning an estimated
- Less than 1 percent of all the companies receive 46 percent of the tax relief.
- Not one North Dakota business is in the top 10 recipients of the proposed corporate tax relief.
- Of these 4,500 companies, approximately 50 percent are out-of-state companies. And, according the Legislative Council, 82 percent of all corporate tax relief will go to these out-of-state companies.
Give away $41 million?
Let’s get one thing straight, we do not oppose helping businesses succeed, particularly our North Dakota-owned businesses. In that regard, we must provide our businesses with the most stable economic environment, ensuring uninterrupted business. We can do that by providing infrastructure updates and helping keep business expenses low.
The question that I and many other legislators are asking is: Why would we give $41 million to out-of-state companies? When asked this question, House Republican (super) Majority Leader Al Carlson responded by saying: We don’t need the money.
Well, excuse me, Al, but we do need the money. North Dakota Democrats have proposed sensible policies that would directly invest that money in our people. We have proposed investments to pay for early childhood programs, provide milk for poor children and help pay for affordable day care for working families. The Republican super-majority has rejected these efforts.
If we don’t make these investments now, with a record budget surplus, when will we? The only logical conclusion a rational person could reach is that the Republican super-majority is simply paying back their out-of-state corporate donors with your tax dollars.
I suspect that this proposal sounds sensible to Peterson and Finken. One is paid by many of these corporations to act on their behalf. The other is a member of the national board of directors of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. As spokesmen for corporate interests, they are entitled to their opinions. But they are not entitled to their select facts, and they don’t have the right to falsely attack my successful business record.
I have spent more than 30 years in the banking industry in North Dakota helping farmers and small-business owners succeed. I have worked closely with the Bank of North Dakota, the Small Business Administration, the United States Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency and Rural Development Administration, as well as countless other small financial institutions, in growing our state’s economy. I have served on committees with the North Dakota Bankers Association. And I have won several awards for my business practices with my employer. I’m proud of my work in helping farmers, small-business owners and entrepreneurs grow our state from the bottom up.
I bring this perspective with me to my work in the Senate. In the end, I will not take a back seat to politically motivated attacks. I will take a firm stand on behalf of the people who elected me to represent them. I will stand up for working families and North Dakota businesses. I will work every day to do what’s right for the greatest good of the people of this state, even if Peterson and Finken don’t approve.
Sinner, D-Fargo, represents District 46 in the North Dakota Senate.