The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Editorials

August 25, 2013

Farm repair tax shows system needs fixing

WHY IT MATTERS: If such an unpopular tax made it through the legislative session, we should concentrate on fixing the system first

Minnesota legislative leaders and Gov. Mark Dayton last week agreed on a one-day special session Sept. 9 to deal with financial aid for storm-damaged areas this summer. What they wisely put aside were other issues such as repealing of taxes agreed upon during the last session.

Dayton, however, said he was “personally disappointed that the repeal of the farm equipment repair tax is not a part of the agreement.”

Jonathan Blake of the Freedom Foundation then tweeted “If you propose a new tax, help craft the bill, lobby for its passage, sign it into law, then refuse to repeal it, you support that tax.”

On being asked why he signed the bill he now wants to repeal, Dayton said it’s not a perfect system and he’s not a perfect person.

Republicans have been targeting business-to-business taxes ever since they passed and now admit they will be on the agenda for the next session. Even Dayton two weeks ago said he wanted to scrap one of those taxes — the new sales tax on farm equipment repair which would have cost the state coffers about $29 million over the next two years. But legislative leaders felt the budget surplus would cover it.

GOP leaders pressed for more and Dayton balked noting that all three B2B taxes were to generate $314 million over two years and asked “how do you pay for that?” He said he needs specific spending cuts or other revenue sources because the Legislature must first balance the budget.

And while he would like to repeal the repair tax “I’m making no promises on anything until I see the revenue forecast in November,” Dayton said.

The repair tax is not only unpopular among farmers and those firms that repair farm implements, many lawmakers are reported disavowing it. You have to wonder how it got approved in the first place.

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