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Reps. Garofalo, Rukavina get in heated debate over taxes

Pat Garofalo.

Minnesota Reps. Pat Garofalo (R-Farmington) and Tom Rukavina (DFL-Virginia) got into a heated debate over tax policy during a meeting of the House Taxes Committee on Tuesday. Each accused the other's party of "sticking it" to the middle class.

The exchange came during a hearing on a Republican bill aimed at cutting statewide business property taxes. The bill received mixed reaction in its first committee hearing; a committee vote is expected later this week.

House Taxes Chairman Greg Davids, R-Preston, introduced the bill as a way to help produce jobs by cutting business taxes.

The bill would immediately reduce the statewide business property tax and phase it out over the next 12 years. That would cut state revenue $40 million this year and $316 million in the next two years.

The state's two-year budget tops $30 billion. The state would pick up $70 million by reducing renters property tax refunds.

Also in the bill is a change in how corporations operating in other counties are taxed, bringing the state nearly $22 million in revenue.

"You are raising some taxes," Rep. Ann Lenczewski, DFL-Bloomington, told Davids.

Rukavina told a small-business lobbyist that cutting the renters refund takes money out of Minnesotans' pockets, so they have less to spend.

Business representatives told Davids' committee that they support the plan to lower business property taxes, which Tom Hesse of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce said, remain high in comparison to other states.

Committee members fought about who is to blame for rising property taxes.

"You stuck it to the middle class," Garofalo told Democrats.

Rukavina shot back that he always has supported lower property taxes.

"If you guys get control of this state, Katie bar the door," Garofalo said.

"You guys stick it to people" who do not have much money, Rukavina responded.

"Don't you lecture me, young man, about what the hell is going on around here," Rukavina added.

Here's video of Garofalo's exchange, posted by The Uptake: