Last week, Growth & Justice sent a brief letter to the members of Gov. Pawlenty's new 21st Century Tax Reform Commission offering support and suggesting questions we hoped the business leaders on commission would consider:
- How will changes affect your current and future employees, customers and communities where you do business?
- How might reforms impact the adequacy and stability of state and local revenue?
- Can changes that help business also make the system fairer and less regressive?
- What is the value to business of public investment in education, transportation and health care, and what should be its ongoing contribution to this investment?
- How should government and taxpayers measure the effectiveness of tax cuts, business incentives or other reforms?
We also weighed in with a post about the relationship between business taxes and business loophole seeking.
This week, Katherine Blauvelt at Minnesota Budget Bites surfaced a 2006 Star Tribune Business Forum commentary in which Michael Vekich, the newly appointed chair of the commission, set forth five tax policy principles that track pretty well with our questions. That's encouraging.
But we still have concerns about what outcomes we can expect from a business-centric commission with a charter that starts from the assumption that tax reform is the key to increasing Minnesota's economic competitiveness.
While the individual appointees are all worthy, as a well-rounded team, the commission has some holes. For example, there's no representation from green industries or agriculture (unless you somehow count General Mills). Both are important to Minnesota's future and are subject to a variety of specific tax policies and investment considerations. Also missing are any advocates for consumers, education and labor. Employers aren't the only ones concerned about the economy, job climate and impact of business taxes on costs.
We hope the commission will find ways to fill in these missing perspectives.
— Charlie Quimby