Rep. Steve Drazkowski: Tell your local leaders to vote against new taxes
As you have heard, the 2013 Minnesota Legislature and Gov. Mark Dayton hit hardworking Minnesotans with $2.5 billion in increased 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 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 Minnesota counties to raise a tax without asking for voter approval. The provision allows a county board to simply pass a resolution in order 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 operating levy of up $300 per pupil without voter approval. If a district already has a $300 or higher levy, they can't raise it by $300. If a district has no referendum, or a referendum 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 Gov. Dayton and the DFL majority passed this session. Yet another level of tax on property throughout the state, 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 owners of agricultural land, business properties and homes now will 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 on June 30, 2013.
It is imperative that working Minnesota families become involved in the tax collection process and share their input with local governments. Talk to your county commissioners about whether 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.