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Minn. Business Leaders Prepare For DFL In Charge

While Olson drew a hard line on revenue increases, some chamber members took a pragmatic view. Jim Hoolihan, owner of Industrial Lubricant Company in Grand Rapids, said business owners and executives had to be willing to shoulder a larger burden as Dayton and lawmakers try to bring stability to the state budget.

"We have to reduce costs and we have to raise revenues," said Hoolihan, whose business is a supplier for mining and logging operations and employs 40 people in Minnesota. Asked if he personally is willing to pay higher taxes, Hoolihan responded: "I wouldn't want to be quoted in the paper saying that my taxes should go up. But we all have to be part of the solution."

Mark Stutrud, founder and CEO of St. Paul's Summit Brewery, also said he isn't opposed to paying higher income taxes. "The reality is that most of us can afford a little more as individuals," said Stutrud, who employs 60 full-time employees.

But Stutrud said he is more concerned about tax hikes that could fall hard on his business operation. He said he'd be on high alert for proposals that would increase excise taxes on beer or other user fees that fall on alcohol production or sales.

Charlie Weaver is executive director of the Minnesota Business Partnership, which is separate from the chamber but represents similar interest. Weaver's group always opposes tax increases if they're not offset by reductions in other taxes; but he said businesspeople must be willing to work with Democrats to minimize worst-case scenarios. For instance, he suggested that if Democrats decide to increase income taxes on the wealthy, that they should offset that with corresponding cuts in the corporate income tax or property taxes on businesses.

"We oppose generally raising taxes," Weaver said. "But we recognize in reality, they will probably be able to do whatever they choose to do â¿¿ and maybe we can help them figure out how to do that in a way that doesn't hurt our ability to grow jobs."

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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