Woodbury’s lone Republican lawmaker wasn’t impressed, while the city’s two DFL legislators, part of a new majority at the Capitol, say the governor’s proposed budget is a good starting point.
Dayton on Tuesday unveiled a proposed state budget and tax plan that would, among other things, lower Minnesota’s sales tax but broaden it to cover more items such as higher-priced clothing, car repairs and other services. He says it would also eliminate the state’s $1.1 billion budget deficit and balance government spending and revenue over the next two fiscal years.
Rep. Andrea Kieffer, a Republican in her second term at the Legislature, said Gov. Mark Dayton’s budget “increases taxes all over the place.”
“That’s not a big surprise,” she told Patch, adding later that the new phrase among GOP legislators is: “A better budget for Wisconsin.”
Woodbury Sen. Susan Kent viewed the governor’s proposal as a positive first step, noting in particular lower property taxes and a bump in education funding.
“I appreciate the Governor’s work and leadership as we begin to solve Minnesota’s perpetual budget problems in a sustainable way,” Kent said in a statement. “The Governor has proposed an ambitious budget. It will require further inspection and discussion to ensure the final outcome is in the best interests of our district and state.”
But Kieffer said the governor’s proposal—particularly expanding sales taxes and taxing some services—would “increase the cost of doing business in Minnesota” and does little to simplify the state’s complex tax system.
“Incremental changes without simplification are meaningless,” she said.
Kieffer also said proposed changes to the way snowbirds’ property is taxed could force many to move out of Minnesota, reducing the state’s property tax base and increasing the number unoccupied homes.
“That always worries me,” Kieffer said.
She was also displeased with the governor’s decision to push back repayments to schools following last year’s funding shift, and took issue with increases for Local Government Aid, which Woodbury hasn’t received for the past several years.
Rep. JoAnn Ward, who represents parts of Woodbury, said the governor’s proposal is “a good starting point for our work on solving the budget deficit and structurally balancing the budget to prevent future borrowing, shifts and gimmicks.”
Dayton’s proposal calls for an additional $340 million for the state’s education system.
“Minnesota has always been a leader in education and it’s time we invest in our schools again,” Ward said in a statement. “After years of growing class sizes, funding cuts and spending shifts, I look forward to working on ways to improve education, including early childhood education, K-12, college and vocational training.”
Kent said Minnesota’s current system of generating revenue is unsustainable.
“Our property taxes have been too high and just keep climbing,” she said. “We need to find a more stable revenue stream so we can make the investments we need in education and infrastructure, which are keys to the state’s economic future.”
Kieffer said there are items in the governor’s budget worthy of discussion, but added that overall it would be “counter to job growth in Minnesota.”
“I think the bill has a lot of work left to be done on it,” she said.
Some of the governor’s other proposals, via House Information Services, include:
- Reducing the corporate tax rate from 9.8 percent to 8.4 percent, dropping Minnesota’s rate from fourth to 12th highest in the nation;
- raising the cigarette tax 94 cents per pack;
- extending the sales tax to clothing costing more than $100;
- increasing local government aid $80 million a year and county program aid $40 million per year; and
- increasing funding for special education by $125 million.