Tax Conference Committee finalizing bill, includes DMC - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Tax Conference Committee finalizing bill, includes DMC


ST. PAUL, Minn. (KTTC) -- Legislators warn that nothing is a certainty at the state Capitol until everything is signed, and that is proving to be the case this year. Thursday night, key legislators came to an agreement on the tax bill that includes Destination Medical Center.

Legislators are pulling all-nighters to finish up their work, and the Tax Conference Committee continues to comb through the details of a bill they plan to vote on by the end of the weekend.

By midnight Friday, the committee is expected to sign off on a tax bill to be voted on, and that bill will include key provisions for Destination Medical Center.

"The items that you'll see in the Conference Committee Report were items that the House and Senate spent many, many hours talking about as they went through the committee process," said Rep. Kim Norton, DFL-Rochester.

Those items include the funding for DMC. $400 million will come from the state, $128 million from the city, and funding will come from Mayo Clinic as well. The authority overseeing the project will be split; four members from Rochester and four others appointed by the governor. Yet, those were not the most controversial parts of the overall tax bill agreed upon Thursday night.

"The top tier is a little higher than I'm comfortable with, as is Sen. Senjem," Norton said, speaking about the new taxes for the top percentage of income earners in the state. "So those are things that we can share our personal concerns over, but the fact is those were agreed to by the three that made that global agreement."

It is a sacrifice Rep. Norton and Sen. Dave Senjem are willing to make.

"We have a provision in there that is vitally important not only to the city of Rochester and Mayo Clinic, but to the entire State of Minnesota," Norton said. "So, it is a little bittersweet that we listen to these discussions knowing we are going to sign a document that, personally, causes us some discomfort."

Mayo Clinic administrator Lisa Clarke has been at the Capitol awaiting the final decision from the Conference Committee, and she still remains optimistic that the weekend will provide good news.

"Well, people tell me not to consider victory until all of the things have been signed," says Clarke, "but I do believe that we are very confident that we put together something that is so solid and so thoughtful and so deliberate that it will return benefits to the State of Minnesota to the county and to the city of Rochester."

The clock may be ticking away, but the questions about whether DMC will happen seem to be disappearing.

Rep. Norton believes that the committee will sign the tax agreement before midnight Friday, leading to a vote this weekend. She believes the tax bill will be one of the final pieces of legislation discussed on the floor, but it should be done before the session ends on Monday.

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