One of the reasons why this session will be contentious is because the DFL is insisting that a promised tax cut be coupled with a middle class tax increase. Simply put, Kurt Daudt and the House GOP caucus won’t let that happen.

The DFL’s proposed middle class tax increase comes from raising the state gas tax. First, it’s indisputable that sales taxes are regressive, hitting the middle class and the working poor harder than it hits the wealthy. Second, raising the gas tax hurts commuters more than it hurts people living in urban neighborhoods. (Imagine that. Democrats proposing raising taxes on the middle class living in exurban and rural Minnesota while protecting rich white people living in the safest DFL districts. That’s as surprising as hearing that Bill Gates made money last month.)

Rep. Thissen highlighted the DFL’s transportation priorities when he said “For someone that’s a leader of the state to come up here and say transit is controversial? It’s only controversial to the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party.”

Actually, Rep. Thissen, imposing a middle class tax increase to pay for transit projects is controversial. It’s controversial because people in outstate Minnesota have put a high priority on fixing Minnesota’s roads and bridges. We don’t care about new light rail projects. Our highways, streets and county roads are filled with potholes. I wrote this article to highlight that the roads are dangerous. I wrote that article in May of 2014. Minnesota’s highways, streets and county roads need immediate attention. Transit doesn’t need immediate attention.

Last year, Move MN was leading the lobbying effort for shoving the DFL’s middle class tax increase down our throats. After they failed, something that was inevitable, they’ve been replaced by Transportation Forward. TF will fail, too, because Republicans won’t vote for a middle class tax increase to pay for something that isn’t essential. It’s worth highlighting, too, that there isn’t a great grassroots groundswell of support for new transit funding.

The only way the DFL’s middle class tax increase gets serious consideration in the Senate is if the House GOP provides political cover. That won’t happen. Imagine the political danger involved for the DFL if the DFL majority in the Senate passed a gas tax but didn’t get political cover from the GOP. The ads write themselves. Mailers with headlines like ‘DFL passes middle class tax increase’ or ‘DFL ignores Minnesota’s roads and bridges’ would definitely get people’s attentions.

Things might get real ugly real fast for the DFL if the DFL pursued this ill-advised strategy.

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