On behalf of the nearly 7,000 members of the National Taxpayers Union (NTU) in Minnesota, I write in opposition to unnecessary tax hikes that will be considered during the current, special legislative session. First and foremost, taxpayers should not be hit with major tax policy changes during a special session since such legislation would not be vetted to the same extent as during the regular session. As you know, under special session rules, the public and legislators have even less opportunity to debate policy changes, because they are more likely to be considered and voted on quickly and largely in private. Passage of tax hikes would be patently unfair under such conditions.
Several major tax hikes, including a so-called income tax "surcharge" on wealthy Minnesotans and a 75 cent-per-pack hike in the cigarette tax may be considered in the special session, not to mention tax hikes that would be used to build publicly-funded stadiums for the Twins and/or Vikings. Minnesota's tax burden is already much heavier than the national average. According to data from the Tax Foundation, Minnesota's state and local combined tax burden was 10.7 percent of average income in 2004. That percentage stands at 10th highest nationally, well above the national average of 10.1 percent. Overall, Minnesotans pay $4,409 per capita in state and local taxes.
Contrary to the accusations of supporters of even more government spending, the size of Minnesota's government has actually grown quickly in recent years. Between FY 2000 and FY 2005, total spending and transfers have risen by more than 50 percent. Even after accounting for inflation, Minnesota's government is set to grow by a remarkable 40 percent in just the first six years of this decade! The real budget problem is that the Legislature's appetite for more than $1 billion in new spending above and beyond the Governor's generous budget outstrips the fast-growing Minnesota economy's ability to create jobs and revenue.
Rather than expanding government once again by adopting tax-and-spend policies that have so greatly harmed Minnesota taxpayers, I hope you will vote against all tax hikes in the special session.
Paul J. Gessing
Director of Government Affairs