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Common sense policies

Thanks to a strong “pushback” from small business leaders and bipartisan opposition from individual taxpayers, Gov. Dayton has been forced to abandon his plan of a $2 billion sales tax increase on business services and individual retail sales transactions. To date, however, he continues to press for more income tax revenue by adding a new, higher top-tier rate for individuals with taxable incomes of $150,000 or higher.

Raising taxes without cutting wasteful and/or unnecessary spending by state agencies and institutions is not a good budget plan for Minnesota.

It is widely known that Minnesota is a high-taxing state for both businesses and individuals. Minnesota ranks 50th out of 50 states (worst) on small business taxes, and ranks among the top 10 highest taxing states in the nation on per-capita individual taxes. As a result, Minnesota continues to lose business investments and jobs to other states with less burdensome tax policies (the latest job loss causality involves IBM relocating jobs out of Rochester).

Rather than raising taxes, Gov. Dayton should be exploring ways to reduce and/or eliminate excessive spending by selected agencies and higher educational institutions. For example, why are the U of M’s administrative expenses “out of line” when compared with other major universities? (Based on a recent Wall Street Journal study)

Why does the DNR continue purchasing more private land, thus removing property from local tax rolls and adding further long-term burdens on taxpayers?

Why is the state spending Legacy tax dollars to fund guitar players and/or other entertainers sitting on bar stools all across the state (in the name of art), when this kind of activity should be funded by the private sector, not tax dollars?

Why are Minnesota-issued EBT debit cards (formerly known as food stamps) allowed to be used outside the state in locations like Arizona, Florida and Texas, rather than being restricted to putting food on the table for needy families in Minnesota?

Why doesn’t the state use Legacy tax dollars to fight invasive species protecting our lakes and rivers, rather than buying more land?

On major projects, such as sports stadiums and mass transit, why isn’t funding derived from user fees on people who benefit, rather than spreading a tax burden on non-users across the state?

Citizens have a right to demand accountability from their elected officials. Your voice is important. Call or write your legislative representatives and encourage them to exercise independent judgment and common sense in evaluating the upcoming state budget proposal, rather than merely extolling the virtues of the governor’s plan, as outlined in recent town hall meetings.

A sound tax policy that encourages business investment and job growth, coupled with reasonable spending constraints, is far superior to a liberal tax-and-spend approach, which will only lead to a shrinking economy and budget deficits long term.

A.L. Kleinke