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Senate Report: Fostering small business growth and job opportunities – Albert Lea Tribune

Senate Report: Fostering small business growth and job opportunities – Albert Lea Tribune

Senate Report: Fostering small business growth and job opportunities

Published 8:45 pm Friday, April 5, 2024

Senate Report by Gene Dornink

Friends and neighbors,

Gene Dornink

Small businesses play a crucial role in our economy and communities by providing essential services and creating jobs. Unfortunately, small business owners and entrepreneurs in Minnesota face many challenges in our current environment of mandates and heavy state taxes.

According to data recently released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis, Minnesota’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth in 2023 ranked 43rd in the country. GDP is a critical measure of the economy’s health, and the new data underscores the need for economic expansion and more quality employment opportunities for all Minnesotans. We also have the highest small business tax in the nation, an outrageous development brought on by the Democratic majority.

My concern is that our high taxes may dissuade entrepreneurs from starting or expanding their businesses in Minnesota. Some may also opt to relocate to states with more favorable business environments, while others may turn to automation. That is why we must increase employment opportunities and make our state a competitive place to grow a business.

Yet the labor policy omnibus bill recently passed by the Senate majority fails to achieve either objective. This legislation notably contains language that modifies Minnesota’s minimum wage rates. It increases the minimum wage based on inflation, up to 5% annually, from the current cap of 2.5%.

Minimum wage increases, however, have a poor track record of delivering for workers. After Minneapolis and St. Paul implemented aggressive minimum wage increases, the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis found that both cities actually lost jobs, and workers earned fewer hours. The promises are high, but the results fail to deliver for Minnesotans.

The labor policy omnibus bill also removes the distinctions between large and small employers from the minimum wage section of the Minnesota Fair Labor Standards Act. This is concerning because it takes a one-size-fits-all approach, which has never benefited our community.

Despite having over 500,000 small businesses in Minnesota, which primarily consist of companies with fewer than 20 employees, the Democratic majority continues to pass policies that treat all businesses the same. Business owners understand the importance of their employees, and the government must partner with both labor and industry to create an environment for businesses and our community members to thrive.

While government doesn’t directly create jobs, its policies can either encourage or deter business expansion. With 10,000 fewer jobs today than before the pandemic, Minnesota’s economy is still recovering. Therefore, we need to listen to business owners’ ideas and concerns and implement measures that aid their recovery. I strongly believe that as lawmakers, we should also focus on expanding employment opportunities.

Minnesota has an abundance of excellent resources for young Minnesotans entering the workforce and for those who wish to transition careers. I’m particularly enthusiastic about the fantastic opportunities in Career and Technical Education (CTE), as well as courses available at community colleges like Riverland. Additionally, there are many amazing apprenticeship programs within trade unions, promising careers in agriculture, state-funded training initiatives for meat cutting, and ample prospects in truck driving, along with so many others.

We need to do a better job in St. Paul. By practicing thoughtful decision-making and attentive listening, government can pass policies in partnership with both labor and industry.

Gene Dornink, R-Brownsdale, is the District 23 senator.