Column: Tax increases never part of negotiationsAs a businessman and as a state lawmaker, I'd like to think I've established myself as someone who will apply a thoughtful process to my work.
By: Tim Kelly, The Republican Eagle
As a businessman and as a state lawmaker, I'd like to think I've established myself as someone who will apply a thoughtful process to my work. I like to listen to all sides before making a decision, and don't subscribe to the partisan rhetoric that many folks on both sides of the aisle express these days.
But there is a major disconnect taking place between the Legislature and Gov. Mark Dayton in terms of solving our budget deficit.
The governor has been taking some significant potshots at the legislative majority for failing to enact his tax increase proposals, so I thought it was time for me to lay out the differences between our plans so you can decide for yourself which side has the better fiscal vision for Minnesota.
I take issue with the media reports, based on Dayton's false claims, that the House and Senate are refusing to compromise when a tax increase has never been part of the conversation.
We passed our balanced budget weeks ago. We didn't complete compromise budget bills with the Senate because we wanted the Governor's Office to give us some guidance and let us know what Dayton would or wouldn't support in our budget bills. We asked for input, and received very little -- other than "you need to raise taxes."
Under the governor's proposals, he has gone from a $4 billion to a nearly $2 billion tax hike, and is insisting that we meet "halfway."
I contend that taxes are not part of the bargaining process.
In fact, the Legislature is not going to compromise on raising taxes. However we are compromising on how much Minnesota should spend on state government programs.
At the start of the year, the House and Senate majority agreed to spend only what we had, and we anticipated that amount would total last year's budget of nearly $32 million. Dayton proposed a more than $36 billion budget.
When we learned that Minnesota will collect roughly $2 billion more than expected, we compromised to a $34 billion budget, which can happen without anyone being forced to pay more in taxes. Thirty-four billion also represents the halfway mark between our $32 billion and the governor's $36 billion proposal.
I've always said we should spend what we have. In the case of this budget, that amounts to nearly 6 percent more than the previous budget.
Dayton seems intent on framing the compromise debate on tax increases, and the majority of Minnesota's lawmakers don't feel that's the direction Minnesota should be going.
We've already moved from $32 to $34 billion. We cannot ask government to spend more than it collects, and we cannot force our business owners to pay $1.8 billion worth of job killing tax increases.
Remember, Minnesota can spend $2 billion in new revenue in our next budget without raising anyone's taxes, and I believe most people would likely agree that a $2 billion raise in state government spending ought to be enough.
Tim Kelly, R-Red Wing, can be reached at 651-380-4345 or firstname.lastname@example.org.