The Free Press, Mankato, MN

April 2, 2014

DFL tax plan only gives 30 percent back

School boards may levy new taxes without asking voters


The Mankato Free Press

---- — Democrats hoped when they passed the Omnibus Tax Bill HF1777[i] last week their constituents and voters wouldn’t be paying attention.

The bill as written had some Republicans voting yes and others no. A yes vote was a show of support for at least some tax reductions. A no vote on the other hand signified that the bill didn’t go far enough or there were other things in the bill that were bad.

It really didn’t matter how Republicans voted on this bill as the Democrats controlled the writing, amendments, final passage, the conference committee with the House and of course the governor’s signature.

In the 2013 legislative session the DFL-controlled Legislature and Gov. Mark Dayton passed $2.1 billion in tax increases on taxpayers in Minnesota, another $500 million in increased fees, increasing state spending by almost 10 percent. Do you remember what a 10 percent increase looks like when compounded? That is how much the Democrats are growing state government.

Keep in mind that John Spry, associate professor in the Department of Finance at the University of St. Thomas stated: “At the proposed federal plus Minnesota income-tax rates, each extra dollar of government spending is likely to cost the private sector around $1.25 to $3.00[ii].”

In a political effort to beg for forgiveness in this 2014 election year, Democrats decided to take a Republican posture and lower taxes that they just raised last year. The difference between the two parties is Democrats only want to give enough back to gain forgiveness and get re-elected. What they don’t want you to look at is, “the devil is in the details” in this bill.

Dayton and the Democrats in the Legislature are only sending back 30 percent of the $1.2 billion surplus their tax increase created to Minnesota families[iii]. Democrats intend to use the rest to satisfy their insatiable appetite for spending on their pet projects.

The reality is that after giving back 30 percent of the surplus, Minnesota Democrats have still increased state spending by over $1,500 for every man, woman and child in our state in this biennium.

Included in the tax bill that Democrats wanted to push through without allowing the GOP time to read is a Local Equity Revenue provision resulting in a $52 million property tax increase allowing school boards to levy up to $724 per pupil in new property taxes, without an operating referendum.

The Democrats promised property tax reductions that didn’t materialize with the last tax bill and are now compounding the problem.

There were many other amendments and suggestions made by Republicans to this bill that would have helped families including retroactively repealing the Democrats business-to-business tax[iv] and applying the fix to the marriage penalty[v] that robs over 600,000 married filers of substantial income tax savings.

One Amendment [vi] that I think is notable, offered by Republicans, would have repealed taxes on military pensions, which sets Minnesota apart as a state to avoid for military retirees. I’d like to see our retired military families retire here to start business and raise their families but Democrats voted nay.

Ultimately, Democrats are hoping Minnesota voters will be happy with them throwing a few dollars back on the sidewalk and forget that the money came from hard working Minnesotans in the first place.

In the meantime at the Capitol, the DFL continues to fight over whether to build a new $90 million Senate office building for themselves. I don’t think they need it or deserve it. But, then again, when you’re a Democrat and in control, spending other people’s money is always easy.

Al DeKruif is a former District 25 GOP 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