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.