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Jon Godfread, Published June 03 2013

Letter: Political rhetoric already?

In a recent letter to the editor, Sen. John Grabinger, D-Jamestown, N.D., seems to be disappointed about how the Legislature treated small business in its most recent session, even going as far as to claim smoke and mirrors were employed when talking about relief for North Dakota- owned and operated businesses. Once again, he tries to claim that all the tax cuts are going to the so-called evil out-of-state corporations. I would disagree.

I encourage North Dakotans to take a look at just what was done for small business in our state: A 20 percent reduction in personal income taxes – more than 24,000 small-business owners file their business taxes through their personal income. This 20 percent reduction is almost double what was given in corporate tax reduction, and I would say that is something worth noting. We felt the 20 percent reduction for the people and small businesses in North Dakota, when compared to a 12 percent reduction in corporate income tax, was a fair compromise.

Although we supported additional tax relief going to individuals and businesses in our state, Grabinger (and a majority in the Senate) voted against those larger tax reductions. Grabinger had the opportunity to support small business further and choose to vote against HB 1250, which would have been a 25 percent reduction in personal income taxes and a 20 percent reduction for corporate income.

Taxes are one area where the Legislature can make an impact on a small business’s bottom line. But it’s not the only place. Reducing burdensome regulation can also help. One bill, for example, would have increased the cost of unemployment insurance to all the businesses in our state. By allowing locked-out employees to receive unemployment insurance, the state would have effectively taken sides in a labor dispute, something North Dakota has never done in the past. By passing this legislation, the Legislature preserved our right-to-work principles and freedom for both employers and employees to negotiate terms, without state involvement. In this instance Grabinger unsuccessfully voted with the unions and against small business.

Property tax relief is another issue where small businesses will see a significant impact. Well over

$800 million is going to property tax relief to all classes of property; this should result in a 20 to 27 percent reduction in your property tax bill.

There seems to be a small group of individuals who, no matter the outcome, wanted to walk away from the most recent session claiming it a failure. But there is one thing I can assure you – this Legislature has made the business climate in our state better, has made the commitment to our education system stronger, and has continued to fund the rebuilding of our infrastructure at unprecedented levels.

There is, however, one point I can agree with Grabinger on. Putting political expediency ahead of North Dakotans is not the right thing to do. But when looking at the numbers coming out of the session, I wonder who is attempting to make political hay by revising history.

Is it me? Or is this campaign cycle starting a little early?

Godfread is vice president of government affairs

of the Greater North Dakota Chamber, Bismarck.