Local view: Minnesota’s ever-increasing taxes add new debt to future generationsThe average citizen in Minnesota doesn’t enjoy reading about the state budget. We want to know that when we send our money to St. Paul it’ll be spent well.
By: Robert D. Farnsworth, for the News Tribune
The average citizen in Minnesota doesn’t enjoy reading about the state budget. We want to know that when we send our money to St. Paul it’ll be spent well.
We were told this past legislative session the amount we pay isn’t quite enough and we need to pay more. But our state government will collect more in taxes this year than it ever has collected. So why should we pay more?
For the current two-year spending cycle, our state general fund budget is around $34.1 billion. The March forecast for how much revenue our state will collect during the next biennium came in at $36.1 billion. This meant that, without any tax increase, our government would have an additional $2 billion to spend in the next biennium. This constituted a 6 percent increase over the previous biennium.
And yet it wasn’t enough for some of our elected officials. Gov. Mark Dayton signed legislation to increase spending to $38.3 billion — an additional $4.2 billion, or a greater than 12 percent increase.
When is enough going to be enough?
For historical perspective, in 1960-61, Minnesota’s general fund budget was around $550 million. Adjusted for inflation, this equals $8.1 billion. We are basically going from spending $8.1 billion per biennium to spending $38.3 billion. This is almost a five-fold increase when our population has not even doubled over the same time period.
This should be alarming enough, but the governor wasn’t done. He also proposed an additional $800 million in bonding. For those who don’t know, bonding is another way of saying we are borrowing money for capital projects. The state usually passes a bonding bill every other year, but the governor tried to pass extra bonding this year. The bonding bill proposed by the governor would have added nearly $1 billion in state bonding debt that already stands at around $10 billion. This means our debt service payments would have increased from the already high level of $500 million this biennium.
Fortunately, the governor was unable to pass this huge bonding bill. His attempt did, however, demonstrate his desire to spend beyond our state’s means.
Dayton sells the state’s increase in spending as an “investment in the future.” But in reality, he is adding new debt and taxes to future generations. He doesn’t even attempt to reform the wasteful manner in which our government spends money; he just seems to say “more, more, more.”
I would like the governor to answer the previous question: When will enough be enough? We don’t need any more catch phrases about “fair shares” and “balanced approaches.” This budget was neither balanced nor fair. It will hit the rich and the poor, the young and the old. The details of the governor’s and Legislature’s budget compromise are emerging, and they are startling.
We need to stand up as hardworking Minnesotans and tell the governor he can keep his platitudes — and we will keep our money.
Robert D. Farnsworth is a special- education teacher in Hibbing. He ran for the Republican endorsement in the Eighth Congressional District in 2010, has worked on campaigns, and has been a delegate to local and state Republican conventions.