ST. PAUL — Recently, I read a news story that described Gov. Mark Dayton as having a “sizzling” first term as governor. I’m not sure the hard-working taxpayers of Minnesota will feel that “sizzle” but I’m confident they will feel the burn in their wallets after this legislative session.
Dayton and the Democrat-controlled legislature found just about every way to make you pay more through higher taxes, fees and costs that will be passed down to you. At a time when we have an ever-shrinking $627 million deficit, the solution brought forward by Democrats was to impose $2.1 billion in new taxes on hard-working Minnesotans.
Under this tax plan, Minnesota’s income tax rate will be the second-highest in the nation for comparative income and have the fourth-highest percentage in the nation. The Democrat tax plan includes a new fourth tier tax of 9.25 percent that will hit small businesses, a $424 million tax on large employers, a $1.60 tax increase per pack on cigarettes, and $137 million sales tax that will affect businesses services like warehousing, storage, IT services and telecommunications. These new taxes will go into effect July 1.
If you see a spike in your electric bills in the coming months, you can attribute that to the new solar energy mandate that was wrapped into the Democrats’ so-called “jobs” bill. The legislation imposes a 1.5 percent solar standard requirement of retail electric sales with a 10 percent solar mandate goal by 2030. Setting an arbitrary solar standard will make energy more costly and less reliable. It also ignores the inefficient and expensive nature of the energy sources being mandated — resulting in you having to pay more each month in your electric bills.
Your health care costs are likely to increase as well under the state’s new Health Insurance Exchange. This is a product of the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare) passed by Congress in 2010 that asks each state to set up an Internet portal (known as an “exchange”) for the purchase of health insurance. This is not a free market proposal. Please do not be fooled by the word “exchange” when you hear about how this is being implemented. This is a government exchange and you will end up paying more for your health insurance. To fund the operations of the exchange, a seven-member political board will levy a tax up to 3.5 percent on every plan sold within the government exchange. The projected revenue is dependent upon high participation in the government exchange. The fewer the people who use the exchange, the higher the tax on premiums will be for everyone else who uses it. Instead of lowering costs, the government exchange will make health care more expensive and less affordable.
As if that weren’t enough, the Democrat majority saw fit to open the doors of childcare providers to union bosses. Not only is it wrong to impose unionization on in-home private childcare providers, it will mean higher costs for all involved. The requirement to pay union dues will force childcare providers to raise rates on working parents or shut their business down completely. Even those providers who opt out of joining the union will be forced to pay a fair share union due rate of 85 percent. Profit margins are already relatively small for childcare providers. Forced payment of union dues will hit their bottom line and force them to possibly close down or raise rates on working families.
We shouldn’t be making Minnesota a more costly place to live for the hard-working families in our state. I always remember that Wisconsin is just miles away from our community. We shouldn’t be enacting policies that create more Wisconsinites and fewer Minnesotans. That “sizzle” of Dayton’s first term may very well burn out the hard-working taxpayers of Minnesota who simply can’t afford the policies that came out of this past legislative session.
Rep. Kathy Lohmer, R-Lake Elmo, represents District 39B in the state House of Representatives. She can be reached at 651-296-4244, by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by U.S. Mail at 239 State Office Building, St. Paul, MN 55155.