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COL Taxes and services

Compromise is needed between both

Taxes equal services. The concept has been written about many times before. It is a stubborn fact, but one that cannot stand alone.

Taxes do equal services, but taxes are also about taking. Redistributing income is required to provide the services our elected officials deem necessary.

Right now, the Legislature is funneling widely diverse bills onto a short list of spending plans. In the end, legislators and the governor will decide on an appropriate mix of taxation and spending to provide services to our residents.

The shorthand summary of what divides state lawmakers is a debate over taxes: How much taxation is enough and what level of service is sufficient.

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Generally, the Republican Party and its leader, Gov. Tim Pawlenty, want to hold the line on state taxes. The state DFL Party would generally favor increasing taxes in order to provide more state services.

It is easy to gain a sense that the two parties will not, or cannot, agree on the mix of taxes and spending because such brinkmanship has become a staple of politics. Outside of the Capitol chambers, however, it's easier to understand the need for balance.

Everybody has that inner social gyroscope that resists great swings on whether taxes should be raised and whether services should be cut or expanded.

Consider a couple of questions.

To those in favor of lower taxes or limits on taxes, these questions should be asked: What services can be reduced? Can snowplowing or road maintenance be cut back? Maybe it's something less personal like health care support for lower income individuals?

To those who believe it is the duty of all state residents to pay more to cover an expanding list of services: Is there a limit to taxes and services the state should provide? Is there a threshold beyond which more services simply draw able-bodied free-riders to a service?

Both sides need to come to the realization that there is a limit to the amount of services that the state can provide and there are also limits to the degree citizens can be taxed. Compromise during the last three weeks of the legislative session will be difficult.

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