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Column: State taxes increased; local taxes may be next

As you have heard, the 2013 Minnesota Legislature and Gov. Mark Dayton increased taxes on hardworking Minnesotans by $2.5 billion in state taxes and fees. They felt it necessary to increase the size of state government by $3 billion and, in doing so, will extract what amounts to an additional $450 from every man, woman and child in this state to cover the cost.

The Democrats’ insatiable appetite to grow government was temporarily satisfied this year, and now the taxpayers who provide our state’s economic activity are paying more whether they want to or not.

In addition to the unnecessary tax increases at the state level, the Democrats also passed laws that take significant power away from individual local citizens all across our state and place that authority into the hands of local government.

This transfer of power gives local governments the authority to raise local taxes on hardworking farmers, small business owners, and families with little to no notice. Here’s an outline of some of these terrible policies:

Wheelage tax: The Democrats passed a law that authorizes counties to raise transportation taxes on drivers – without a vote of the people. A provision tucked into the transportation finance omnibus bill allows county boards to levy a per-vehicle tax — charged at registration — of $10 per car for every vehicle you own and register.

County transportation sales tax: Here’s another law allowing non-metro counties to raise a tax without asking for voter approval. The provision allows a county board to simply pass a resolution to impose a countywide sales tax and it would be applied to all items currently subject to the sales tax. The only caveat is the sales tax revenue must be spent on a local transportation project.

No vote required for school levy: Under this provision, a school board can enact a local school levy up to $300 per pupil without voter approval. If a district already has a $300 or higher levy, it can't raise it by $300. If a district has no levy, or a levy below $300, then the board can increase that to $300 without voter approval.

Statewide general school levy: While this new property tax will be collected by the state rather than local governments, it is another very bad example of the oppressive tax increases that Dayton and the

Democrat majority passed this session. Under this tax, the education commissioner will set a uniform property tax rate to be applied to all property in Minnesota. This means that all agricultural land, business properties, and homes will now pay a new state imposed property tax.

It’s important to note that the state budget this past session provided very significant increases in state aid to both counties and schools in the next biennium. Additionally, the state budget ended the collection of state sales taxes from counties and cities, giving these local governments even more room in their budgets.

Also, do not forget the massive amounts of state tax dollars that were sent to local school districts over the past year. This resulted from paying back the education shifts, which was made possible due to the responsible Republican-crafted state budget that ended June 30, 2013.

It is imperative that working families become involved in the tax collection process and share their input with local governments. Talk to your county commissioners about whether or not you support an additional wheelage tax on every vehicle you drive. Reach out to your local school board members and express your position on increasing your property taxes without your approval.

Our locally elected officials are likely your friends and neighbors. Reach out to them and make sure your voice is heard before they cast their votes.

Rep. Steve Drazkowski, R-Mazeppa, can be reached at 651-296-2273 or