According to Brynaert, it will take more revenue to genuinely balance the budget while also making sure colleges are properly funded so students can graduate without mountainous debt levels, ensuring that property taxes aren’t disproportionately used to finance government services, and guaranteeing that important budget areas like veterans benefits are adequately supported.
“And that involves the ‘T-word’ that people don’t want to talk about,” Brynaert said. “Taxes.”
Shunkwiler said he won’t support tax increases.
“I can’t go to the neighbors in my community and say, ‘Well, I think we’re going to increase your taxes, we’re going to take more out of your paycheck, we’re going to add more property taxes to your house,” he said. “... That’s not what I stand for. It’s not what I’ll fight for.”
But when Shunkwiler used the “tax and spend” label in saying that approach has repeatedly failed, Brynaert responded to what she said is a stereotype.
With multiple years of multi-billion-dollar shortfalls in the state budget, Minnesota needs to take a three-pronged approach of targeted spending cuts, use of reserve funds and increased revenue, Brynaert said.
“If you take any one of those off the table, then you cheat yourself of the opportunity to appropriately do a pay-as-you-go budget,” she said. “And then you do kick the can down the road.”
The debate, moderated by Joe Meidl with questions submitted online and by audience members, was sponsored by Greater Mankato Growth and the League of Women Voters.