Two members of the Rochester Tea Party Patriots traveled to St. Paul this morning to testify against a bill that would allow the city of Rochester to ask voters to approve a half-cent sales tax increase.
Tea Party member Cindy Maves told lawmakers at a key committee hearing that the tax was started in 1983 for a valid reason — to build needed flood control infrastructure. But she said this time the money would be used for projects that are not worthy of taxpayer dollars.
"We are not renewing (the sales tax) for infrastructure. We are renewing for frosting," Maves said.
She was joined by fellow Rochester Tea Party Patriot member Max Sullivan, who also opposes the bill.
But representatives from the city and the Rochester Chamber of Commerce turned out to voice their support for the bill. Chamber President John Wade told lawmakers "I'm about the last person who would come here to advocate for a tax, I can assure you." But he said this sales tax extension would be worthwhile. Money would be used for transportation projects, higher education buildings, public safety facilities and economic development efforts.
"What I do believe is that this measure, the local option sales tax, has been well thought out, locally developed and proven results," Wade said. "If we get things right in our community over the next 10 years we will grow 8,000 jobs."
Sen. Dave Senjem, R-Rochester, is carrying the bill in the Senate. Rep. Duane Quam, R-Byron, is the author in the House.
The House and Senate bills were laid over for future consideration.