Wednesday, February 15, 2006
Senate DFL proposal: Strategery
That translates to about a 25-cent sales tax increase for every $100 dollars spent.
The sales tax increase would generate about $191 million a year, according to Senate DFLers.
DFLers propose dedicating about a third of the sales tax revenue toward fish and wildlife — about $65 million — with the remainder evenly divvied up between parks and trails, clean water initiatives, the arts — museums, public broadcasting, others.
“We believe simply that the people of Minnesota are willing to take a serious look at the proposal,” said Senate Majority Leader Dean Johnson, DFL-Willmar.
But Rep. Tom Hackbarth, R-Cedar, House Environment and Natural Resources Committee chairman, slammed the Senate DFL proposal. He accused “Senator Johnson and his band of puppeteers” of playing politics with their proposal. “Frankly, I’m rather disgusted,” said Hackbarth, explaining that Senate Democrats know the House Republican caucus would never support a tax increase.
Questions of tax increases, argued Hackbarth, should not be left to the public — that’s for the Legislature to deal with, he explained.
As I said above, I like this proposal for several reasons, both ideological and political.
1) Any proposal that seeks to add funding to outdoor resources, conservation, and public broadcasting (read: MPR. Doesn't Rep. Hackbarth like MPR?) through what is, let's face it, a very small tax increase, should be taken seriously. This proposal pushes items that are on the DFL platform, and will excite the liberal and activist bases of the party.
2) I don't think the timing of the proposal was specifically designed to embarrass Governor Pawlenty, but it does put the state Republican Party and its elected officials in a bit of a pinch - which is more important, keeping taxes below necessary revenue levels, or funding programs like fishing and wildlife management and restoration, which, given the rural constituencies most Republicans in the Legislature represent, could be used against incumbents running for reelection by savvy DFL opponents.
3) Rep. Hackbarth's final comment in the article highlights another issue - the Stadium deal. His comment seems to indicate a hard position against allowing referenda on tax increases - this may indicate that a deal is possible whereby aspects of the DFL caucus's proposal may be flexible in exchange for concessions elsewhere. However, the Republican caucuses have too many goals for the upcoming legislative session (property tax relief, gay-hate amendments) and risk losing their unified message if they move in too many directions.
4) The pressure here is on Republican officials to stick a few proposals in their desk drawers for the year so the Legislature can get some business done. This is, in and of itself is a risk for the GOP - their base has been clamoring for their representatives to add discrimination against gays and lesbians to the state Constitution, and might start getting restless if the GOP is forced to table the Bachman Amendment.
Anything that puts the Republican caucus in this kind of pickle is music to my ears. Kudos to Sen. Johnson and the rest of the caucus leadership for coming up with a great multi-faceted move for the upcoming session.
I don't like this proposal. I also don't support the Governor's proposal to dedicate vehicle sales tax to transportation. We elect legislators to make those decisions - and I don't believe in this nonsense of putting dedicated funds into the constitution.
Also worth noting - it's rather ironic that democrats want the voters to decide on this - but wants to stick it to Hennepin County residents on the stadium tax.
Democrats AND Republicans need to keep their grubby paws off the state constitution.....
MN Campaign Report said:
But that's what makes me think it's more a strategic move than anything else. Personally I agree with you about adding tax dedications to the state constitution, it's a loophole maneuver just like a gay marriage ban. But again, strategy. Using this avenue signals to the GOP legislative caucuses that deals can be made, but it puts the DFL caucuses in position of strength going into those negotiations.