The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

March 14, 2013

Dayton draws Minnesota tax debate into sharper focus



Dayton points to tax studies that show the richest pay a smaller percentage of their incomes in state and local taxes.

"We're still pulling ourselves out of this deep hole and we need the wealthiest to help get us out of it," he said.

A recent Star Tribune poll of 800 Minnesota adults showed 54 percent favored the Dayton income tax proposal. The same poll, which carried a margin of sampling error of 3.5 percentage points, found widespread disapproval for the sales tax expansion.

Republicans, far outnumbered in the Legislature, said public outrage stopped the sales tax proposal and they hope the same will doom the income tax.

"We didn't have the votes to stop the sales taxes and the business-to-business taxes, "said Senate Minority Leader David Hann, R-Eden Prairie. "So I think it's time for the people of Minnesota to weigh in on all the taxes and just ask the question, 'Do you need high taxes to grow the economy?' We don't believe so."

Over the years, Democrats have voted repeatedly on proposals to slap higher taxes on the wealthy. They have been more supportive of that element of Dayton's budget than the sales tax proposal he later abandoned.

Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, said a higher income tax on top earners is a near certainty, with some possible changes to who falls into that category and what rate they pay.

"When Minnesota voters gave him a Democratic Legislature, that die was cast," he said, adding, "Something very similar to what he proposed is going to land on his desk."

Bakk said some new sales taxes could still wind up in the Senate's budget. He said senators are looking at taxes on digital goods such as Internet music purchases, body piercing, tattoos and cosmetic surgery.

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