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Use common sense in evaluating governor’s budget plan

Thanks to a strong “pushback” from small business leaders and bi-partisan opposition from individual tax payers, Gov. Dayton has been forced to abandon his plan for a $2 billion sales tax increase on business services and individual retail sales transactions. To date, however, he continues to press for more income tax revenue by adding a new, higher top tier rate for individuals with taxable incomes of $150,000 or higher. Raising taxes without cutting wasteful and/or unnecessary spending by state agencies and institutions is not a good budget plan for Minnesota.

It is widely known that Minnesota is a high taxing state for both business and individuals. Minnesota ranks 50th out of 50 states on small business taxes and ranks among the top 10 highest taxing states in the nation on per capita individual taxes. As a result, Minnesota continues to lose business investments and jobs to other states with less burdensome tax policies.

Rather than raising taxes, Gov. Dayton should be exploring ways to reduce and/or eliminate excessive spending by selected agencies and higher educational institutions. For example: Why are the U of M’s administrative expenses “out of line” when compared with other major universities? (Based on a recent Wall Street Journal study). Why does the DNR continue purchasing more private land thus removing property from local tax rolls and adding further long term burden on tax payers? Why is the state spending “legacy” tax dollars to fund guitar players and/or other entertainers sitting on bar stools all across the state when this kind of activity should be funded by the private sector? Why are Minnesota issued EBT debit cards (formerly known as food stamps) allowed to be used outside the state in locations like Arizona, Florida and Texas rather than being restricted to putting food on the table for needy families in Minnesota? Why doesn’t the state use “Legacy” tax dollars to fight invasive species protecting our lakes and rivers rather than buying more land? On major projects such as sports stadiums and mass transit, why isn’t funding derived from user fees on people who benefit rather than spreading a tax burden on “non-users” across the state?

Citizens have a right to demand accountability from their elected officials. Your voice is important. Call or write your legislators and encourage them to exercise independent judgment and common sense in evaluating the state budget proposal rather than merely extolling the virtues of the governor’s plan.

A.L. Kleinke