Minnesota’s economic experts released our state’s economic projections recently showing a $1.086 billion surplus for fiscal year 2014-15. This figure is subject to change by the February forecast, some of which depends on how secure hard working Minnesotan’s feel about spending for Christmas.
Only 6 percent of the surplus, about $55 million is actually cash in the checkbook. We have 19 more months in this 2-year budget cycle, meaning this projection is clearly at risk going forward.
The past legislative session, Gov. Mark Dayton and Democrats’ budget took an additional $2.3 billion in new taxes and fees (1) from Minnesotans. At the same time spending was up $3 billion over FY2012/13 and the Senate rewarded themselves salary increases (2)(3) and a $90 million new Senate office building (4), complete with a reflecting pool!
Democrats celebrate taking more money for their spending spree, while parents are working two to three jobs to pay for their cost of living and health-care increases due to Obamacare. According to the Department of Employment and Economic Development (5), 49 percent of Minnesota’s workforce remains underemployed.
In comparison, the Republican majority’s fiscal year 2012-13 budget produced a surplus of $3.46 billion (6) (Enacted 2011) without raising taxes, but by controlling out-of-control spending. Republicans also passed legislation to pay back the school shift they continued from the former DFL legislature but Dayton vetoed (7) that proposed payback. Keep in mind that the DFL enacted taxes have only been in the budget four months. Yes four months! The DFL is trying to take credit for something when their tax and spending budget has barely gotten out of park, which is absurd!
When a legislature increases spending it also substantially increases our future financial obligations. Government programs never go away voluntarily; they only continue to grow and demand more taxpayer dollars to justify their existence. Obamacare along with MNsure are good examples of this. Rather than work to fixing the problem of a small percentage of folks that didn’t have health insurance and battling the rising cost of health care, government is making matters worse.
The nearly $39 billion general fund dollars spent on Minnesota state government programs, by the DFL in this two-year cycle, is more than enough. If the projected surplus remains after the February forecast, we should practice fiscal restraint, not go on another spending spree.
The politicians in St. Paul think the surplus is newly found money. No it’s not. It belongs to you and I, the businesses on Main Street, and companies that produce jobs. One of the first things this Legislature should do is repeal a little over $300 million in sales tax increases that were leveled on farmers and other business owners. We have heard many complaints about warehousing, industrial, and telecommunications tax increases and how they negatively impacting business owners, some of which have threatened to move their companies to another state.
If we can eliminate some of the uncertainty surrounding these oppressive tax policies, hardworking Minnesotans can actually begin enjoying economic prosperity.
We need to return the funds to the taxpayers, not go on a spending spree.
You already hear code words like investments to mask the desire to spend. This spending are not investments; this spending is feeding the insatiable appetite of government to spend your money. You and I must tell the government no — they are supposed to work for you, not the other way around!
Al DeKruif is a former District 25 state senator. He is the owner of DeKruif Enterprises and Sakatah Trail Resort. He lives in Madison Lake. Footnoted sources can be found online with this article at www.mankatofreepress.com/letters