Thank you for the privilege of serving as your state representative these past two years. I appreciate your support, your visits to the Capitol, your thoughtful emails and your phone calls! In March, I was thrilled to become the endorsed Republican candidate running again for election in Dist 38A this fall.
With Democrats controlling all branches of government, the House, Senate and governor’s office, Minnesota saw taxes increase by a historic $2.4 billion for the 2-year budget cycle of 2014-2015. With this increased taxpayer revenue, state spending increased by 12 percent while at the same time the economy is only expected to grow by 4-5 percent. In the session just adjourned, the Democrats even spent the anticipated surplus created by these new taxes - an additional $700 million over and above the budget!
Two years of one-sided lawmaking has clearly led Minnesota down the wrong path.
YOU’RE PAYING MORE…
…INCREASED INCOME TAXES: The top marginal income tax rate in Minnesota was raised to 9.8% putting us 3rd highest in the nation. In addition, our income taxes are the second most progressive (the gap between the top tier and the lowest tier) in the nation, according to the MN Center for Fiscal Excellence.
…INCREASED COSTS OF GOODS AND SERVICES: Taxes on businesses get passed on to consumers – that’s a fact in study after study, including those by the Minnesota Dept of Revenue. Yet, Democrats raised taxes on businesses by $1 billion.
…INCREASED CHILDCARE COSTS: Ignoring pleas from small business owners, Democrats enacted legislation that will force a unionization vote on in-home childcare providers. This will increase childcare costs for moms and dads who work outside of the home, and take taxpayer money intended to help low-income families and give it to union bosses.
…HIGHER ENERGY COSTS: New solar power mandates enacted by Democrats on electric utility providers will raise energy bills. Furthermore, no legislative action was taken to improve the delivery of natural gas via pipelines or to ease the wind power mandate (of 25% by 2025, 30% for Xcel Energy).
…AND POLITICIANS PROTECT THEMSELVES AND THEIR ALLIES
…NEW OFFICES FOR POLITICIANS: Provision for a grandiose $90 million office complex for state senators was sneaked into the 2013 Tax Bill (later challenged as unconstitutional). Senate Democrats were undeterred. Spent wisely, these dollars could employ more than 1,400 teachers or fill more than 3.5 million potholes.
…PAY RAISES FOR POLITICIANS: The majority placed a constitutional amendment on the 2016 ballot designed to increase salaries for legislators. They also approved a pay raise for the governor, constitutional officers and commissioners.
…HISTORIC SPENDING INCREASE: The state 2014-2015 budget is the largest in state history, increasing spending by more than 12 percent. That’s more than $1,500 for every man, woman and child in Minnesota.
…BAIL-OUTS OF UNDERWATER PUBLIC PENSION FUNDS: Democrats committed over $420 million in taxpayer money over the next 28 years to cover the pensions of 3,000 Duluth teachers and $200 million more for retired teachers in St. Paul. This may not be enough. Payouts are exceeding contributions, yet Democrats are resisting reforms. Last year they had to withdraw a bill, due to an intense citizen outcry, that would have added a $5 surcharge on each home and auto insurance policy (to generate $23 million) to supplement underfunded police and fire pension funds.
Always happy to hear your ideas and comments,
Thank you for the privilege of serving you in the Minnesota Legislature. And thank you for your input and involvement on many important state issues.
One of the principles I support is that governments, like individuals, must live within their means. Applying that resolve to the 2012-13 budget, the GOP prevailed on not raising taxes and reducing spending dramatically (a $35.9 billion budget) to lead the state out of the recession. Also, in the 2012-2013 budget, the GOP reduced the following bienium's spending growth by $2.5 billion. The slowdown in spending was historic! Annual spending increases slowed to 2.5% on average compared with 8% and 10% per year during the '80's and '90's.
With a conservative focus on private sector job growth and controlling the cost and size of government, the Minnesota economy in fact rebounded between 2011 and 2013 without raising taxes! At the June 30th close of the 2012-2013 budget, a $5.1 billion deficit facing the state on January 1, 2011 had been erased. Not only that, a $1 billion surplus had been achieved without raising taxes.
However, in the 2012 election, the DFL, mobilizled by Governor Dayton, captured control of both the House and the Senate giving the DFL one-party control of state government. Their 2014-2015 budget increases spending by 8%, and raises taxes by $2.1 billion, the largest increase in 25 years. It also raises spending by $2.9 billion for a total budget of $38.8 billion. The out-biennium of 2016-2017 will increase spending by another $4 billion! Will this rapid increase in spending set up the state for another revenue shortfall (slowdown)? I believe government should not grow faster than the overall economy.
In the previous budget by the Republicans, Minnesota joined 44 other states in not raising taxes. Under the current budget by the DFL, Minnesota was one of a few states to raise income taxes -- and they were raised by adding a 4th new tier at 9.8% on higher incomes, giving Minnesota the 3rd highest rate in the nation. Furthermore, our income taxes are now the 2nd most progressive in the country - higher incomes paying at higher rates. Our tax code which is based on a heavy reliance on the income tax creates more instability in state tax revenue, the experts say. Why? Because tax revenues decrease precipitously in bad times and increase unsustainably in good times (often due to one-time capital gains taxes or lack thereof.)
There’s a better way: bringing cost-savings, greater efficiencies and long-term structural reform to Minnesota government. The hard work of government reform is important and challenging, but it must be done if Minnesota is to continue to be a growth state providing a future for our children. Together, I know we can make it happen.