Iron Range officials are looking for another way to protect taconite tax dollars from being raided by the legislature to balance the state budget — that after the I-Triple-R-B backed away from putting the money in a trust fund because some lawmakers cited lack of transparency. Senator Justin Eichorn from Grand Rapids says, “On the front end I think legislation is the quick, easy way to protect that money, but we may still need to consider going the trust route, but just setting it up in a different way so that we make sure that there’s public accountability and transparency.” Production plants pay taconite taxes in lieu of property taxes, and northeast Minnesota officials argue those revenues should stay on the Range to promote economic development.
Eichorn argues it’s time to protect taconite tax dollars from being sent elsewhere in Minnesota. “The opportunity is ripe now. I think we need to do it and have something in place to go to the governor this year for signature. I think if we get beyond this year, it’s gonna get a little bit tougher to do that,” he says.
More in this interview: