By Rep. Dean Urdahl
Gov. Mark Dayton revealed his budget plan this week. It includes record tax increases and fails to address our state’s future.
This illustrates an enormous philosophical divide between a governor who wants to raise taxes to support more government growth and a Legislature that is focusing on streamlining government to protect taxpayers and bring fiscal responsibility to our state.
Dayton’s budget plan for 2012-13 includes approximately $4 billion in new taxes in order to fund 22 percent more government spending. His proposal creates about $8.50 in tax increases for every $1 of spending reductions and Minnesota would have the highest income-tax rate in the nation under Dayton's plan with two new tiers of 13.95 and 10.95 percent. His tax increases would be damaging to our job creators at a time when people need to return to work and our economy needs to get back on its feet.
The rhetorical question pertaining to Dayton’s plan is this: What happens in 2013 if our economy has not markedly improved and we face another shortfall? Does the governor look to raise taxes again? His proposal is not a budget for the future and is out of touch with the Great Recession’s economic reality. All the tax hikes in the world won’t get us back on track until we fix our structural spending flaws and that’s where our focus should be trained.
The House has set March 25 as the deadline for its own budget targets and our plans will starkly contrast with the governor’s. First, we will acknowledge our budget limits. Keep in mind Minnesota is projected to take in $2 billion more dollars for the new biennium without any tax hikes. Most of our families and businesses are living on flat or reduced incomes, so government should be able to make a 5-percent increase work.
We also will continue working on identifying ways of helping government run more efficiently and, as co-chair of the House Redesign Caucus, I am deeply involved with that subject. For perspective, here’s what we face: It was not until 1999 our state spent $20 billion in a two-year budget period, yet we are scheduled to spend an estimated $39.7 billion in the 2014-15 biennium. Our tax base can’t sustain this growth and that’s where our redesign group comes into play by identifying better ways of running our state. I will pass along details as our proposals evolve.
The governor’s proposal will not receive support from the Legislature as it currently stands, so budget negotiations will continue throughout the session. Finding a solution won’t be easy, but we can’t continue making hard-working Minnesotans and job creators pay for more government.