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Sen. Torrey Westrom: Comments on Gov. Dayton's revised budget

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Governor Dayton recently released a revised budget on March 14, 2013. His modified budget calls for $37.94 billion in state spending, which is up from our current budget of $35.2 billion (a 7.7 percent increase in spending). The governor is still calling for $1.8 billion in new taxes, even after pulling his $2.1 billion sales tax increase due to public pressure.

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Governor Dayton’s budget contains some new spending and taxing items from his January budget. He is still proposing all day Kindergarten for students, a $52 per pupil on formula, $125 million for special education, $80 million for the state grant program, and $120 million increase in aid to local governments. Also, his new budget still includes increasing the proposed $0.94 per pack additional tax on cigarettes, 9.85 percent fourth tier income tax ($250,000 married, $200,000 head of household, and $150,000 individual), and Minnesota “snowbird” tax. The “snowbirds” would be subject to a pro-rata income tax based on the number of days they are present in Minnesota over 60 days.

The Governor’s revised budget drops the push for the $2.1 billion of new sales taxes proposed on goods and consumer services such as taxing clothing over $100 per item, admissions and memberships to school events and clubs, over the counter drugs, and legal accounting and auto services. Additionally, the $500 property tax rebate for all homeowners ($1.4 billion in cost), the 2-year freeze on business property taxes, and the reduction of the corporate business tax rate from 9.8 percent to 8.4 percent is omitted. 

His latest budget still does not include paying back the school shift this biennium, which the DFL had pledged they would pay back during this last election. It’s this type of “false promises” made by some candidates that is irritating to the voters – and rightfully so.

I want to make government more efficient, not more expensive. The Governor’s latest budget ignores any government reforms to demand efficiency and save taxpayers money.  Rather, it just calls for more taxes to increase the “same old” government with more spending. State government does not need to take more “dimes” from hard-working taxpayers until it can prove that every dollar it is currently spending is being used effectively. I want to focus on how we can give more opportunities to everyone, and not just create a bigger, more burdensome government that ignores reforms and will harm individuals, families and the economy as a whole.

For additional details of Governor Dayton’s budget please visit http://www.mmb.state.mn.us/doc/budget/bud-op/op14/update-pres.pdf.

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