BY SEN. PAUL GAZELKA
The 2013 legislative session adjourned May 20. It is always an honor to serve you in the Minnesota Senate.
Working across the aisle to set a responsible state budget was my focus this year. I support creating a more efficient and effective government as we did in 2011-12, not a more expensive government as we did this year. The Democrat budget that was passed for 2013-14 concerns me. I believe we could have done better.
With Gov. Dayton and the House and Senate majorities controlled by Democrats, the state’s budget will increase by nearly $3 billion — from $35.4 billion to $38.3 billion — a more than 8 percent increase. Permanently increasing spending over the next two years by $3 billion to cover a projected $627 million deficit is inefficient and irresponsible budgeting, and hardworking taxpayers will lose more of their paychecks to fund wasteful government programs.
Minnesotans deserve better.
I believe in a different approach. Minnesotans should be able to keep more of their hard-earned money and ought to be trusted to make their own decisions. It’s the government’s responsibility to provide more opportunities for all Minnesotans. We aren’t here to create a bigger, more wasteful government.
Minnesota has a spending problem and we need to spend more effectively and stop wasting money on inefficient government programs that don’t provide a satisfactory return on the investment for hardworking Minnesota taxpayers. Under the Democrats’ tax-and-spend plan, every Minnesotan will pay more in taxes. They’re overtaxing, overspending, overreaching, and Minnesotans can’t afford it.
Highlights of the tax increases all Minnesotans will see range from taxes on Internet purchases from retailers such as Amazon and eBay, digital downloads like iTunes and eBooks, new taxes on equipment repair for small businesses, satellite TV services and telecom equipment, groceries and even medical products such as Tylenol or Aspirin.
Smokers should also expect a tax increase of $1.60-$2.50 per pack to close a loss of revenue for the Vikings stadium.
These new taxes are unnecessary. Minnesota doesn’t have a revenue problem. Our state collects more than enough money. We need to spend it more wisely before we ask for another dime from you as taxpayers.
Additionally, Democrats have increased taxes by 25 percent on highest income earners to 9.85 percent, making Minnesota an outlier in the Midwest with North Dakota at 3.99 percent, South Dakota at 0 percent, Iowa at 8.98 percent and Wisconsin at 7.75 percent.
Maryland, for example, when setting this kind of tax policy in 2008, saw a loss of revenue when the highest earners simply moved out of state to avoid paying more taxes. This will happen in Minnesota, too, particularly when the surrounding states have, by far, a more sound tax policy.
I worked hard to protect taxpayers and I believe you pay enough. A better approach is a more efficient, effective and responsible government, and I will not stop advocating for you in St. Paul, telling the Democrats you’ve had enough.
You can and should expect a more responsible government.
(Sen. Paul Gazelka represents District 9, which includes parts of Cass, Wadena, Todd and Morrison counties.)