Associated Press, Published August 20 2013
New Minn. telecom tax faces bipartisan criticismST. PAUL — The chairwoman of Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton's Broadband Task Force has echoed Republican criticism of a new state sales tax on telecommunications equipment.
Margaret Anderson Kelliher, a former Minnesota House speaker, said the tax could be an obstacle to new broadband infrastructure and lead to fewer jobs in that sector. She has written to Dayton about the tax and told Minnesota Public Radio News for a story Tuesday (http://bit.ly/12lyM9a ) that the tax should be repealed.
Kelliher is a Democrat and currently directs the Minnesota High Tech Association. She argues the tax will make it harder to reach a state goal of having border-to-border broadband by 2015. The tax moves in the opposite direction of a task force recommendation to expand an exemption so it would cover more types of telecommunications equipment, such as fiber-optic cable.
"This I think is a case where being able to correct this and take it back and make it the way it had been for about a decade or more, makes a lot of sense," Kelliher said.
The tax is expected to generate $75 million over the next two years.
Dayton and legislative leaders are negotiating the agenda for the potential Sept. 9 special session. He wants it limited to disaster relief to 18 counties hit hard by June storms and a farm machinery exemption to a new tax on business equipment repairs.
House Speaker Paul Thissen of Minneapolis and Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk of Cook contend there is enough money available to offset the $28 million needed for the farm exemption. But Bakk said he's not inclined to revisit other newly adopted taxes.
"Beyond that, things get awful expensive," Bakk said.
Senate Minority Leader David Hann, R-Eden Prairie, said lawmakers should be able to plug the holes if they look hard enough in the $38 billion budget.
Information from: Minnesota Public Radio News, http://www.mpr.org
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.