Dear Letter to the Editor,
In two weeks city leaders in cities across the state, including Coon Rapids, will set their budgets for 2008. Many face tough decisions and likely will need to raise property taxes in order to sustain necessary services like law enforcement and basic maintenance of roads and bridges. I want to briefly discuss some reasons why this is occurring and what I am doing to stop this disturbing trend.
Since the budget crisis in 2003, cuts at the state level have shifted the responsibility for funding of our schools, roads, and bridges to local property taxes. Over the past five years, $1.1 billion in local property tax relief has been cut from the state budget and another $614 million of property taxes have been used to provide additional funding for Minnesota schools. Since the mid-1990's local property tax levies for roads and bridges have doubled and property taxes are now one of the largest funding source for our roads and bridges.
In total, Minnesota property taxes have increased by $2.2 billion dollars since 2003 and are expecting to increase another $500 million next year. This harmful shift will continue unless we acknowledge the damage that state budget cuts have had on property taxes and explore other ways to provide the necessary funding for good schools, safe roads and bridges, and strong law enforcement.
This past legislative session, the legislature crafted and passed a tax bill that would have cut property taxes substantially. Unfortunately, the Governor vetoed the property tax relief bill twice. Without action by the Governor, Minnesotans will again see property taxes rise.
I will continue working with city leaders and legislators during next session in an effort to fund the things many of us value most - education, safety, and law enforecement - in a manner that doesn’t continue to rely on property tax increases.
State Representative Melissa Hortman – District 47B
Brooklyn Park, Coon Rapids