WDAY: The News Leader

Published January 31, 2010, 09:04 AM

Dems try for Mall of America, investor tax credits

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — House Democrats outlined a plan Friday to steer private money toward growing small businesses, historic renovations and hotel construction at the Mall of America with tax credits and other tax measures.

By: MARTIGA LOHN, Associated Press

They aim to revive tax incentives that passed the Legislature in past years as part of larger tax bills that were vetoed.

This time, though, the credits and other measures would be put forward in a separate bill, and House Taxes Committee Chairwoman Ann Lenczewski said she is shooting for quick agreement on the package with Senate Democrats and Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

"We are working in the world of the doable. This is not fantasy legislation," said Lenczewski, DFL-Bloomington.

House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher promised thousands of jobs would come from three bills, including the tax proposal, a public works bonding bill and economic development initiatives still being worked out. The tax bill would include changes in tax-related financing for a Mall of America expansion that could get a hotel project at the mall off the ground.

"We are going to put thousands of Minnesotans back to work again through our work early in this legislative session," said Kelliher, who is among 14 Democrats running for governor.

Harry Melander, president of the St. Paul Building and Construction Trades Council, said the hotel project alone would create 200 to 250 full-time construction jobs. His estimates have the overall mall expansion employing 1,700 construction workers for three years.

Lenczewski's bill would establish a tax credit for investors who put money into high-tech companies, manufacturers and eco-friendly businesses with fewer than 100 employees and less than $2 million a year in revenue. It would offer another tax credit for qualified historic renovation projects.

The bill would cover the $10 million-a-year cost of those tax credits by eliminating a corporate tax shelter related to real estate investments.

Republican House Minority Leader Kurt Zellers had a lukewarm reaction to the bill outlined Friday. He said he supports efforts to spur investment in growing businesses and the Mall of America but had concerns about parts of the proposal that would allow local governments to control some taxes generated by new development.

Pawlenty's spokesman Brian McClung said the governor is a strong supporter of the investment tax credit for small businesses.