Property tax increases posed by a Republican budget plan this week are too big and come too soon, says Assistant House Minority Leader John Persell.
"We all understand that we have a significant budget deficit, and I think we all know that some tough cuts are coming," Persell, DFL-Bemidji, said Thursday, in his first statement as assistant minority leader.
"What I would hope, however, is that before legislation is introduced to increase property taxes by another $600 million we could consider every option available to us," he said. "This is not a race to the finish line."
House Republicans on Monday announced a budget plan in which they want to cut state agencies by $200 million yet this year and cut $500 million from Local Government Aid in the next state biennium budget that takes effect July 1.
The proposed legislation would trigger property tax increases by cutting LGA, Persell said. The GOP plan would cut LGA by $490,0o00 to Bemidji, $158,000 to Park Rapids and $9,500 to Cass Lake.
According to Persell, property taxes have increased by 85 percent over recent years, placing a disproportionate burden on seniors, farmers and young families.
Property taxes on businesses alone have increased by $800 million since 2002. The proposed legislation would add another $130 million on top of that.
"My top priority right now is to protect and create jobs for Minnesotans," said Persell. "Increasing taxes on the job creators is a step in the wrong direction. I think we should step back, get some public feedback, and consider every other option available, such as improving efficiencies through redesign or the zero-based budgeting the Republicans proposed just last week."
Also Thursday, the House DFL Caucus tabbed Persell to serve as an assistant leader during the 2011 legislative session.
Persell will serve as a voice for the DFL Caucus in the broader community, help coordinate outreach efforts, and be a part of the House DFL's strategic activities by serving on the Caucus Steering Committee.
"Assistant leaders will play an important role in shaping the caucus and in holding the Republican majority in the Minnesota House accountable to govern responsibly," said House DFL Minority Leader Paul Thissen of Minneapolis.
"Assistant leaders will make sure Republicans keep their priorities in line and hold true to their campaign promise of an all-cuts budget proposal that does not harm seniors, the disabled, or children," Thissen said.
Persell last fall won re-election to a second term to his House 4A district. Predecessor Frank Moe, DFL-Bemidji, served as assistant House majority leader. Persell serves on the Agriculture and Rural Development Policy and Finance Committee, the Environment, Energy and Natural Resources Policy and Finance Committee and the Veterans Services Division.
"Rep. Persell is a strong voice for Minnesota's priorities -- jobs that pay enough to support a family, a world-class education for our children, and a budget doesn't continue to squeeze the middle class. I look forward to working together to move our agenda, and Minnesota, forward," Thissen said.