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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Linda Runbeck (R)

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'Secret Session' means bad policy, tax increases

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Dear Neighbor,


It’s become painfully clear that taxpayers cannot afford what happened in St. Paul in the 2013 legislative session. The final days of the 2013 session are evidence themselves. Call it the “Secret Session”; it was a session where bad policy and tax increases that could not withstand public scrutiny were quickly presented and passed into law. 


There were rushed votes on conference committee reports and little scrutiny by the public, news media or legislative minorities. Examples of bad policy include the warehousing and storage tax, the new $89.5 million Senate Office Building, the automatic wheelage tax increase to $20 in 2017, the $33 million bailout for the Minneapolis library and the vanishing voter-approved school levies. 


In the end, Dayton's budget shot state spending up by $2.9 billion for the 2014-2015 budget cycle. That's an 8.1% increase. In 2016-2017, "forecasted" spending will increase by $4 billion, a 10.8% increase!


To put these increases in context, consider that the GDP (Gross Domestic Product), i.e., our economic growth, is expected to increase by only 3.5% during 2014-2015.


Here are just some of the increases that will impact virtually all Minnesotans:


TAXES – A total of $2.3 billion is being confiscated from taxpayers in new taxes and fees! Democrats proposed every tax imaginable (on snack food, beer, wine, water, gas, sand, miles driven, you name it) because they discovered that "taxing the rich" didn't yield nearly enough. However, in the end, they settled on raising $1.5 billion in income taxes from top earners, $450 million from cigarette taxes (good luck collecting that!) and another $350 million in sales taxes from a few unlucky industries (those that didn't send lobbyists to the Capitol to object, so we heard!).


FEES – Title fees, motor vehicle sales taxes and drivers' license fees all were raised.


STATEWIDE SCHOOL LEVY – Another level of property tax on your home. It will be set by the commissioner of education and will be assessed on all properties. While it's slated to raise only $20 million, this is the foot in the door.


WHEELAGE TAX – Your county can impose a wheelage tax of up to $10 when you register your car. Note: Anoka County commissioners have repealed the wheelage tax altogether!


COUNTY TRANSPORTATION SALES TAX – Non-metro counties can impose a countywide sales tax on all items currently subject to the sales tax. Voter approval is not required.


NO VOTE REQUIRED FOR SCHOOL LEVY – Metro districts can shift control of up to $724 per pupil in local levy dollars from taxpayers to the school board. Of that, $424 in Location Equity Revenue would automatically shift from the voter-approved to the board-approved portion of the school tax unless the school board opts out by the end of August. The board can also choose to roll over another $300.


Click here for information regarding all the new laws passed in 2013.


Hope you're having great summer!



Linda Runbeck


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