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Letter: Tax increase is bad policy

Rep. Joe Schomacker

Following a nearly nine-hour debate on the Minnesota House floor, the House Democratic majority approved a $2.7 billion tax increase proposal that impacts every Minnesotan. All Republicans and a few Democrats voted to oppose the measure.

The majority wants to increase state spending by $4 billion, or more than 10 percent, in the next two years, and this bill is part of how hardworking taxpayers will cover the bill. Minnesotans in every income level are going to feel the effects from this proposal.

Business owners will be hardest hit through taxes on their income, as the House plan makes Minnesota the state with the second-highest income tax rate. But lower income-filers will also pay more, as it lowers income levels at which the 7.05 percent and 7.85 percent rates take effect.

Essentially, this means even if you make between $21,650 and $79,730 a year now, you could pay $65 more per year in taxes than current rates.

The proposal would also increase the cigarette tax from 48 cents to $2.83 a pack, and force a 50 percent increase in the alcohol tax. All Internet purchases would be subject to the sales tax, as would all sports memorabilia.

Raising taxes and fees by $3 billion while cutting only health and human services by $150 million is not a balanced approach. Had we chosen to continue living within our means and focused on getting people back to work, we would have seen a nearly $800 million surplus in our next budget cycle. But if we add $4 billion in new, permanent spending, I fear more budget deficits may be in our future.

State government bill passes House: By a vote of 73-56, the Minnesota House approved its omnibus state government finance package, which would appropriate $921 million to 28 state agencies and boards and give one percent compensation increases to employees in those agencies. Several positive reforms and spending proposals for Minnesota's veterans are unfortunately overshadowed in this bill by changes in public policy oversight.

K-12 budget passes House: The House on Tuesday passed the largest portion of the state budget, which funds K-12 education for the next two years. The spending total is $15.7 billion, a two-year increase of $227 million over the current level, with $209 more per pupil by the end of the next biennium. It also provides $50 million over two years for preschool and daycare scholarships for children from lower-income families. The latter is an extension of a bipartisan initiative we piloted in 2011.

Governor requests disaster declaration for southwestern Minnesota: On Friday, Governor Mark Dayton signed a letter to President Obama requesting the President declare a major disaster for the State of Minnesota as a result of a winter storm beginning April 9 and concluding April 11. I'd like to thank the governor for his swift response and attention.