ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — A coalition of Minnesota business groups on Wednesday launched statewide campaign-style advertising that’s critical of tax increase proposals from Gov. Mark Dayton and legislative Democrats.
The group calling itself United For Jobs aired its first television and radio ads. The TV ad focuses criticism on the proposed income tax increase for the highest 2 percent of earners in Minnesota, which Dayton and DFL leaders want to help fund spending boosts on public schools and other programs.
The broadcast, newspaper and online ad campaign is an effort of business groups around the state including the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce and Minnesota Business Partnership, which represents leaders of major Minnesota corporations. The ads call for cutting waste and making government more efficient without identifying where specific cuts could be made.
“Tell Governor Dayton and legislators: You don’t need more of our money. You need to spend it better,” the TV ad concludes.
Charlie Weaver, head of the Minnesota Business Partnership, said the ad campaign will exceed six figures in cost and is aimed at building pressure outside the Capitol for something other than tax increases. He said the budget could be balanced by cutting 2 cents from every dollar the state spends.
Weaver characterized the ads as “firm but respectful” and said they shouldn’t impair the ability of business leaders to work with Dayton and other Democratic leaders going forward.
Dayton spokesman Bob Hume said the governor’s tax plan targets only a small slice of taxpayers as a way to shore up the state budget and make future investments.
“Minnesota’s tax system has been stacked against the middle class for a generation, and it’s not a surprise that the corporate special interests who haven’t been paying their fair share don’t want to,” Hume said.
House Speaker Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, said the new group’s approach isn’t a constructive strategy for shifting the Legislature’s discussion. Thissen said earlier invitations to business leaders to highlight areas where spending can be cut have been met with silence. But he said he hears constant calls from the private sector for lawmakers to foster a next-generation workforce.
“The business community wants this education investment, they just don’t want to pay for it,” Thissen said.
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