Pull up to the tax pumpAs many Minnesotans packed up the car for their 4th of July weekend few, if any, realized their independence had been dealt yet another blow.
By: Phil Krinkie, Lake County News Chronicle
As many Minnesotans packed up the car for their 4th of July weekend few, if any, realized their independence had been dealt yet another blow. Minnesotans were losing just a little more economic freedom of their own. On July 1, the state imposed two more tax increases.
The first is an increase in the gasoline tax of 1.6 cents per gallon. It is the fourth gas tax increase since February 2008. That legislation included an 8.5 cent gas tax increase, an additional ¼ cent sales tax increase in five metro counties, as well as increased license and auto excise taxes. These were just what the Minnesota economy didn’t need as we headed into a recession.
The second tax increase, which went into effect on July 1, is a 3/8 cent sales tax increase. This is the sales tax you may remember voting on last November. You may or may not have realized that this constitutional amendment was a tax increase because the wording was so convoluted. It was the tax increase that special interest groups told you in their advertising would save Minnesota’s drinking water.
So, as you fill up the tank and as you pay the increased tax on most of the items that you purchase, you may want to consider how this money is really going to be spent.
First, most of the $480 million of tax revenues won’t be spent on water quality programs and only $5.5 million on drinking water protection.
This is not exactly what Minnesota voters were told they would be “investing in” with the revenue from the increased sales tax. Most of the money is to be spent on programs and projects already funded through existing state agency programs like the $127 million which goes to Minnesota’s DNR.
Another large chunk of the $480 million of your sales tax dollars goes to fund arts and cultural heritage, which already receives almost $20 million in state funding.
So do the math: funding for the arts more than doubles while the state budget shortfall peaks north of $6 billion.
Besides the art lovers are getting a double dip of cash, let’s not forget the “parks and trails” crowd. They too got a piece of the pie in the dedicated funding game. The parks and trails funding amounts to $65 million out of the $480 million.
As the old axiom states, “When all is said and done, more is said than ever done.”
This is certainly true for our new sales tax which will fund loads of pork projects for special interest groups, and regretfully last for the next 25 years.
This column originally appeared in the St. Paul Legal Ledger Capitol Report.
Phil Krinkie is a former Republican state representative from Lino Lakes and the president of the Taxpayers League of Minnesota. The eight-term lawmaker chaired the House Tax Committee and two other House panels.