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Dick Palmer: Tax cut drama just getting started

Would an income tax cut and a refund be in our best interests? Such a question deserves an answer, but don't expect the answer you may want, it depends on whom you ask. Set aside the Washington scene for the moment and look woefully at St. Paul. ...

Would an income tax cut and a refund be in our best interests? Such a question deserves an answer, but don't expect the answer you may want, it depends on whom you ask. Set aside the Washington scene for the moment and look woefully at St. Paul. The actions of the Minnesota 2001 legislative session hang in the balance as a serious debate on tax cuts and refunds looms amidst speculative gestures that are certain to heat up shortly.
A serious consensus and ultimate tax plan for Minnesota's future is the mandated goal, but don't hold your breath. With a Democratic Senate, a Republican House and an Independence Party governor, one thing is certain, there will be little consensus and no easy solutions. The debates will be intensive and the conclusions, one way or the other, will not represent the ideal solution.
How to effectively jump-start a slowing economy is the kindling for the possible firestorm ahead. Naturally, cool heads will be needed to control the winds of destruction.
What is bugging taxpayers the most is who is right and who is wrong and for what reasons? The Democrats want to retain tax surpluses to prepare for that rainy day. On the surface, that concept has merit, but knowing politicians, the game is to convert surplus taxes into new government programs that, once initiated, go on forever.
The Republicans want the average citizens to share in excess taxes equitably, but in order to do it, Democrats say it would be too big a giveaway to the rich, even though they pay most of the taxes. And then there is Gov. Jesse Ventura, who wants to change the tax formula reducing income and property tax formulas but not necessarily reducing taxes. He would shift to the sales tax, adding more categories including food, clothing and the service industry, currently excluded from being taxed.
Governor Ventura's revolutionary alternative sales tax plan will certainly crash and burn before it even taxies to the runway. There will be extensive opposition to his proposals, and some objections have merit. The outcome will be difficult at best, and one thing is absolutely certain, an appropriations and tax bill will not be swept under the rug and will be passed in one form or another, or the state will be forced to shut down on July 1.
The war is on, and it is really in its beginning stages, a volley here and a flanking action there. Proponents of one plan or another don't have much time, and therein lies the danger. Hastily passed legislation generally doesn't pass muster, and the war only goes into recess for yet another battle.
Dick Palmer is the former editor and publisher of the Budgeteer News. He may be reached by telephone at 729-6470 or by e-mail at RPalmer341@aol.com .

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