The tax bill conference committee is expected to hear testimony tomorrow on Rochester's proposed sales tax extension and both supporters and opponents are gearing up.
The Senate version of the bill includes approval for the $160 million requested by Rochester for the sales tax proposal. But the House version slashes $58.5 million from the plan getting rid of funding for a senior center, youth center, library expansion and various economic development initiatives. The city needs the legislature's authorization before it can put the sales tax issues before the voters.
City officials and Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce President John Wade are expected to testify tomorrowing morning in support of the full sales tax proposal. Meanwhile, members of the Rochester Tea Party Patriots are planning to carpool to the Capitol to speak out against the sales tax. In an e-mail to members, the group says if it can't get the measure killed it will at least make the argument that they adopt the $58.5 million in cuts.
There are two local lawmakers on the conference committee. Rochester GOP Sen. Dave Senjem, sponsor of the sales tax bill, supports the full $160 million plan. House Taxes Committee Chair Greg Davids, R-Preston, backs the cuts. In an interview today, Senjem did say it will likely be tough to get the full funding because the Minnesota House voted against an amendment backed by Rochester Democrats to reinstate the cuts.