NORTH MANKATO — Mankato area lawmakers asked local residents and officials for ideas to change the tax code that would stabilize the state budget, but more importantly be palatable to enough people to be able to pass the Legislature.
“It’s clear we have changed the balance in the revenue stream from income taxes to property taxes,” said State Sen. Kathy Sheran, DFL-Mankato, noting that property taxes have gone up 86 percent in the past 10 years.
Sheran; Rep. Kathy Brynaert, DFL-Mankato; and Rep. Clark Johnson, DFL-North Mankato, said state revenue collections are out of balance and that budget deficit fixes in the past 11 years have left the state careening into routine budget shortfalls.
“What we’re here to hear about is what you’re willing to do — what the public is willing to support us on — so we can get a budget that isn’t in deficit every year,” Sheran told a group of about 30 at a town hall meeting in North Mankato Saturday.
One audience member said taxing bad things, like carbon, makes sense. Another said a mileage tax or tire tax should be applied rather than relying on a dwindling gas-tax fund for highway improvements. Sheran said that while there are discussions by some about those types of taxes, the public support and political will is simply not there to enact them now.
And Brynaert said that while the push by Gov. Mark Dayton and others to expand the sales tax to more goods and services makes sense, the devil is in the details.
“I wish we would lower the rate and expand the base on the sales tax. But the push-back is unbelievable,” she said of the many interest groups who oppose adding a tax on their goods or services.
Johnson, who recently won a special election, said he wants to hear from people about an expansion of the sales tax.