By Rep. Joe McDonald
I recently watched the series Band of Brothers. What a tremendous show! I am reminded of the Greatest Generation and its sacrifices both overseas and at home.
Most everyone pitched in for the effort. Rationing was a common practice on the home front. To do their part during the Great Depression and World War II, Americans rationed many things such as sugar, gasoline, coffee, automobiles, bicycles, cheese and butter just to name a few. Consumers abstained from spending. America seemed to be quite united! We now need to be united again and everyone must do their part to pitch in and help get Minnesota balanced and back to work. Families and businesses have made sacrifices by living within their means and so to must our state.
We should aspire to be more like the Greatest Generation. Today, a number of our soldiers are once again deployed and we are working to recover from the Great Recession, the largest economic downturn we’ve experienced since back in the 1930s. We also have a projected $6.2 billion budget shortfall to resolve in Minnesota.
But, instead of encouraging all Minnesotans to pitch in and help us work out of this economic crunch, Gov. Mark Dayton proposes the state’s largest tax increase in history – $4.1 billion – to increase state spending by another 22 percent. Dayton’s new top taxpayer tier of 13.95 percent would easily be America’s highest and the second tier of 10.95 all but equals the current national leader. This would be damaging to many of our job creators at a time people want to get back to work.
The plain fact is we can’t just keep on raising taxes to cover government’s insatiable appetite for spending. We could go ahead and pass Dayton’s record-setting tax increase to balance our budget now, but we’ll find ourselves right back in the same predicament if we fail to correct our state’s structural spending imbalance.
Here’s the problem: Minnesota’s spending is set to increase by 5 percent in the upcoming biennium, but we are committed to increasing state spending by 27 percent. It took Minnesota until 1999 to surpass $20 billion in spending over a two-year budget period, yet we are scheduled to spend an estimated $39.7 billion in the 2014-15 cycle. We will have doubled our spending faster than Brett Favre played out his football career.
We anticipate Minnesota will have $32 billion to work with over the next two years. That’s what we’re bringing in and that’s what we can spend. Our Constitution bans D.C.-style deficit spending in Minnesota and we can’t afford the single-highest tax increase our workers have ever faced just so government can continue growing.
We all have to do our part in balancing the budget and accepting the consequences for our state having lived beyond its means in prior years. It would be helpful if all our government bodies, agencies and programs, along with the citizens of this great state, chipped in to help put us on a better course.
Generational nicknames aside, the satisfaction of playing a part in our part in this economic recovery would be enough.