This MPR article talks about the fight Republicans are picking with Gov. Dayton over his proposed tax increases:

Gov. Mark Dayton and Republicans in the Minnesota Legislature are sparring over the definition of a fair tax system.

A week after the governor released his plan, Republicans are zeroing in on his sales tax and property tax proposals. Republicans in the House and Senate Tax committees blasted Dayton’s budget plan Tuesday because they say it would force middle income Minnesotans to pay more in sales taxes.

That’s the worst possible fight for GOP legislators to pick. My advice to the GOP powers-that-be in the legislature is pretty straightforward. Don’t fight the fairness issue. First, that’s DFL turf. Second, it won’t change hearts or minds. Third, it doesn’t do anything to highlight how Gov. Dayton’s sales tax and cigarette tax increases hurt retailers. Fourth, it doesn’t do a thing to highlight the established fact that cigarette tax increases shrink revenues from the cigarette tax. Fifth, fighting the fairness non-issue doesn’t highlight the fact that Gov. Dayton’s tax increases don’t strengthen Minnesota’s economy or job creation.

The GOP powers-that-be should focus like a laser on the fact that Gov. Dayton’s budget and tax increase proposals will hurt Minnesota’s economy because it chases businesses and shoppers to North Dakota and Wisconsin. They should follow Rep. Leidiger’s lead. Here’s how he drives those points home:

  • Does your hand-me-down car need a tune-up? Auto repairs are taxed.
  • Sick? Aspirin, cold medicine, and any other over-the-counter drugs are taxed.
  • Getting married? The wedding dress and hair services are taxed.
  • Need to buy your kids winter coats? Any clothing item over $100 is taxed.
  • Need to make a will or get tax help? Legal and accounting services are taxed.
  • Do your college-aged children need to buy textbooks online? Online purchases and digital downloads are taxed.
  • Smoke? The cigarette tax is increased by nearly $1 per pack.
  • Own a business? Business-to-business transaction sales are taxed.

Rep. Leidiger’s list of specific tax increases should become the GOP’s response to questions about what’s awful about Gov. Dayton’s tax increase proposals. GOP legislators should repeatedly question Gov. Dayton and the DFL legislature how the middle class and working poor will pay less in taxes when all auto repairs, non-perscription drugs, cigarettes and e-books will see tax increases.

GOP legislators should repeatedly question DFL legislators and Gov. Dayton about why they think the middle class and working poor wouldn’t get hurt by these tax increases. Next, I’d tell GOP legislators to question Gov. Dayton, DFL legislators, especially Sen. Bakk, and ABM activists on why raising the cigarette tax and the sales tax won’t change people’s buying habits. Here’s what Sen. Bakk said in 2009:

Senate Taxes Committee Chairman Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, said…higher alcohol taxes would drive some liquor shoppers across the Wisconsin border.

Thus far, Sen. Bakk hasn’t criticized Gov. Dayton’s proposed cigarette tax increase even though it would have the same effect on retailers as the alcohol tax increase would’ve had in 2009. He deserves a ton of needling for what he hasn’t said this time. It’s time for GOP legislators to remind everyone that DFL legislators don’t own their votes, that their special interest puppeteers own their votes. Sen. Bakk isn’t saying anything because he’s expected to say what Alida Messinger and ABM tells him to say.

Finally, I’d recommend that the GOP fight Gov. Dayton’s budget, especially the tax increases, because it won’t strengthen Minnesota’s economy. GOP legislators should tell every interviewer how many jobs were created with a GOP legislature, then use that as a measuring stick against how many jobs this legislature creates.

4 Responses to “My advice to GOP legislators”

  • Chad Q says:

    Why exactly should the GOP pick a fight with anyone over tax increases and spending? The people made a clear choice in Novemeber and they chose higher taxes and more spending. The GOP should just sit back and let the DFL do what they want to do (going to happen anyway) and then watch the state melt down because the so called rich and businesses move to more tax friendly states and all that will be left will be the takers. I’d tell the GOP to sit back and let the DFL own it all.

  • Gary Gross says:

    Why should the GOP pick a fight with anyone over tax increases and spending?

    A: So we can remind them prior to the next election that a) we were right & b) the DFL’s budget hurt Minnesotans & their employers.

  • Bob J. says:

    Gary, the problem is that the DFL is presenting a target-rich environment with Dayton’s budget.

    Oops. I keep forgetting only liberals can use that phrase.

    Anyhow, Governor Goofy’s budget is open to criticism virtually everywhere. The problem for Republicans isn’t prioritizing as much as it is multitasking.

    That said, you criticize the strategy of attacking sales tax increases even though every point on Representative Leidiger’s list which you praise has something to do with a sales tax.

    What am I missing here? If there’s a nuance that would help sharpen the focus of opposition I’d like to know what it is.

  • walter hanson says:


    I think you’re missing a point. On a recent late debate I heard one of the GOP state senators talking about how the sales tax proposal will affect the construction and purchase a house.

    He pointed out under the Dayton proposal the twelve or so subcontractors that are part of the building of a house will have to charge sales tax on their work which will increase the price of a house from $200,000 to something like $235,000 when you throw in a tax on the sale commission also.

    Not to mention lets remind the voters hey they said they were only going to tax the rich and leave you alone. They didn’t! If you kick them out of office (and keep them out) we will get rid of those taxes that they are trying to give you.

    Walter Hanson
    Minneapolis, MN

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