The people of Minnesota faced genuine adversity over the last year — and not only due to pandemic health concerns. Too often the situation was worsened by government-imposed barriers that imposed arbitrary one-size-fits-all expectations on families and businesses which were just trying to survive and earn a living.
Now, even as Minnesota’s economic outlook continues to improve, families and businesses across the state are struggling to make ends meet. Now is the time to put money back into Minnesotans’ hands and back into the economy, reform delivery of government services, and recover stronger.
The Minnesota House budget plan would do the exact opposite.
It would double down on the wrongful assumption that more government must be good for the state. And it would raise billions in new revenue via everything from gas taxes, sales taxes, tab fees, business taxes, and new personal income taxes — while increasing regulations and mandates that would increase the cost of energy and drive jobs and opportunity out of the state.
All this at a time when the state is projecting a surplus, when billions in federal assistance are on the way, and when families and businesses are still struggling to recover from government-imposed shutdowns.
Now is not the time to raise taxes — on anything. To do so risks killing any recovery before it can fully take hold. Studies show that tax hikes negatively impact economic growth and that state revenue is much more closely tied to economic performance than tax rates.
Even if you agree the state needs more revenue, the best way to get there isn’t by cutting a bigger slice of the pie for government, it’s by growing the overall size of the pie through economic growth. The House budget would only take us backward.
To be clear, the state doesn’t need more money. Minnesota revenue collection is already at an all-time high, with nearly $16 billion more coming into the state’s general fund today than just 10 years ago. Blindly adding to and perpetuating the broken high-tax and high-spend status quo without additional oversight or review of non-performing programs only shifts more of the burden to workers and entrepreneurs at a time when Minnesotans can least afford it.
It's families, workers, and small businesses which need help — not state bureaucrats. We’ve all had to tighten our belts, innovate, and do more with less since this pandemic began. We should demand government officials do the same. Rather than tax hikes, lawmakers should focus on getting our economy back on track for the long term and prioritize tax relief, regulatory reform, and spending restraint that empower individuals and businesses to generate economic growth and opportunity.
State government has enough resources. What it doesn’t have is the confidence of its citizens that they’re actually getting value for what they’re already paying for.
Jason Flohrs is state director for the Americans for Prosperity Minnesota (americansforprosperity.org), which has its office in Burnsville.