Mayo Clinic’s ambitious expansion plans for Rochester are one step closer to becoming a reality.
The Minnesota House voted 69 to 64 to approver funding for Mayo Clinic’s Destination Medical Center proposal on Wednesday as part of a sweeping tax bill. The 20-year plan requires Mayo Clinic to invest $200 million before state dollars would begin to flow for public infrastructure projects in Rochester. The local community would be required to contribute $128 million toward the project. The county would be on the hook for an additional $33 million for transportation upgrades.
House DMC bill sponsor Kim Norton, DFL-Rochester, said the project will create an estimated 25,000 to 30,000 direct jobs, up to 15,000 in indirect jobs and up 2,200 annual construction jobs.
"This is probably the largest economic development opportunity anywhere in the country," she said.
But not all the lawmakers in the Rochester-area delegation agreed the tax bill was worth supporting — even if the DMC project is in it. Rep. Duane Quam, R-Byron, said while there may be some good provisions in the bill, the damage caused by tax increases in the bill outweigh any potential benefits.
"This is a stone cold, job killing bill," he said.
The House tax bill raises $2.6 billion in revenue and includes raising taxes on wealthier Minnesotans, alcohol, cigarettes, sports memorabilia and silica-sand mining. It creates a fourth-tier 8.49 percent rate on couples with a taxable income of more than $400,000 and single filers with taxable income of $226,200. It also imposes a two-year, 4 percent income surcharge on taxable income over more than $500,000. Taxes would be boosted by $1.60 a pack for cigarettes and 7 cents a drink on alcoholic beverages. Those additional dollars would be used to close the state’s $627 million budget gap, pay back $854 million borrowed from K-12 schools and provides $250 million in property tax relief.