Viewpoint: Bunn’s slanted talk about state taxesRep. Julie Bunn’s recent opinion in the Woodbury Bulletin (July 2), “Straight Talk about Minnesota Taxes,” was anything but straight and is nothing more than the usual DFL attempt to justify her party’s propensity to increase spending at Minnesota taxpayers’ expense.
By: Richard Elliott, Viewpoint Writer, Woodbury Bulletin
Rep. Julie Bunn’s recent opinion in the Woodbury Bulletin (July 2), “Straight Talk about Minnesota Taxes,” was anything but straight and is nothing more than the usual DFL attempt to justify her party’s propensity to increase spending at Minnesota taxpayers’ expense.
I will address each of her points to demonstrate her shortage of logic and common sense.
Ms. Bunn begins by asking us to shift our logic to the “same page” (her DFL page) which argues that the dollars of taxes the various state and local governments take from us is unimportant. She suggests that the correct logic is to judge the DFL taxation in relationship to our income.
According to the Minnesota Department of Revenue, Minnesota ranks 11th (2006) in the nation in per capita state and local revenue — an unenviable position if we are trying to attract and retain businesses in Minnesota.
If we consider only state taxation for which Ms. Bunn’s is directly responsible (excluding local taxes) Minnesota ranks sixth in the nation.
Ms. Bunn and her DFL colleagues, however, would prefer that you look at our ranking as a percent of total income, which is 26th.
This argument fails to recognize that we are competing in a national and global economy for businesses and jobs. As I will show below, that competition for jobs will become more acute in the years ahead.
If we apply this same DFL logic to other transactions, our auto dealership would ask to see our W-2 before they would quote us a price on a new car; or our local Target store would post a sliding scale of prices based on our pay stub that we present to the check-out cashier.
Applied to government and taxation, Ms. Bunn would argue that every time a Minnesota citizen gets a pay raise, our state and local governments have a right to a portion of that pay raise with higher taxes.
Yet, it is the individual, not the government, who earned a pay raise through diligence and hard work.
Ms. Bunn then goes on to soften her party’s high taxation with the “livability” argument. I will agree that Minnesota, if you can endure the long, cold winters, provides a special type of livability.
However, other states in our nation provide equivalent livability, without cold winters, with lower taxation, and with lower cost of living. Ms. Bunn implies (without factual back-up) that Minnesota is a destination state and not a departure state for population.
Yet, the U. S. Census Bureau statistics show that Minnesota will lose population to other states over the next 20-plus years.
Let me be specific. The Census Bureau projects that the U.S. population will grow by 23 percent between 2010 and 2030. During that same period, the southern U.S. will grow by 34 percent and the western U.S. will grow by 36 percent.
Here in Minnesota, our growth will be a paltry 10 percent, (less than one-half of one percent per year), far short of the 23 percent U.S. average.
This means that the rest of the country will be adding more jobs for its citizens than Minnesota. The South and West will add jobs for their residents two and one-half times faster than Minnesota.
Combine this data with a U.S. average annual birthrate of 1-1/2 percent and longer life expectancy, and one must conclude that people will not be moving to Minnesota and many of our citizens born here will leave for more livable states with stronger job opportunities.
Ms. Bunn ends her arguments with a listing of pro-business positions she has taken in her first term in the Minnesota legislature.
These small initiatives, however, pale in comparison to her party’s aggressive position on taking our money.
Why is it that we always hear the DFL talk about increasing spending without ever a mention of economy — cutting government?
Only by cutting back on government can Minnesota ease the tax burden on individuals and corporations and position our state to avoid joining the ranks of the 21st century “rust-belt” states.
Elliott is a resident of Woodbury.