St. Cloud restaurant owner represents small businesses at state level

(KNSI) – Jules’ bistro owner Donella Westphal was invited to the Minnesota State address as a representative for small business owners. Governor Tim Walz mentioned the name of the owner of the St. Cloud restaurant when he explained how the tax increases caused by the failure of the Legislature to agree on the reimbursement of the insurance deficit State unemployment hurts small businesses. She says it looks like the pandemic is over, but restaurants are still doing it.

Jake Judd (KNSI)

“Many of us have taken on additional debt just to get through the pandemic, not even to make improvements to our businesses, but just to take care of our staff and continue to take care of our community. And right now, with inflation and a tight labor market, we don’t need another tax hike.

Donella says she has worked hard to take care of her staff and that every penny her business loses is less than she can invest in her restaurant.

“Every extra expense that hits me right now becomes a decision on whether I pay for my staff to park, whether I pay for my staff to receive professional development or not, whether I pay for my staff to have days leave with his family.”

She said the reserves businesses had before the pandemic have disappeared, making every expense a challenge. Legislative leaders are deadlocked on the unemployment insurance issue, leading to an automatic tax hike for employers across the state after lawmakers missed a March 15 deadline to return the money .

Lawmakers still have four weeks in session to figure out how to use the state’s historic $9.25 billion budget surplus and $1 billion in unspent COVID funds. Senate Republicans have said they want to use the money for permanent tax cuts. Democrats say they want to use the money for education and bonuses for frontline workers.

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