July brings summer surprises to taxpayers


It’s hard to believe, but we’re into the month of July. While I’m hoping for some pleasant summer weather, I regret to report that we have some unpleasant laws coming into effect this month.

Effective July 1, Minnesota now has a new fourth tier income tax bracket at a 9.85 percent level on the state’s high income earners. While this tax is intended to hit wealthy Minnesotans, it will actually hit small business owners the hardest. Under this new tax, Minnesota’s income tax rate is now the second highest in the nation for comparative income and the fourth highest percentage in the nation.

In order to help finance the new Vikings stadium, taxes went up from $1.23 to $2.83 per pack for cigarettes. I don’t smoke, but I don’t think we should put the burden of building the Vikings stadium on smokers. Also, expect to pay more if you download music, videos or books online with the consumer sales tax on digital downloads.

One surprise feature of the tax bill that was included during the last minute at the end of recent session — a new office building for members of the Minnesota Senate that will cost taxpayers close to $90 million so senators can have a panoramic view of St. Paul. We shouldn’t be taking more money from hard-working taxpayers to give state senators a cushy new office building.

If you see a spike in your electric bill in the next few months, you can attribute that to the new solar energy production mandate passed this session that went into effect July 1. While I firmly believe we need to have a comprehensive energy policy in Minnesota, setting arbitrary renewable energy standards will make energy more costly and less reliable for all Minnesotans.

Much was made by DFL leadership at the beginning of the legislative session about paying down the school shift. However, the new K-12 education finance bill that came into effect July 1 contains no provision to finally pay back the school shift. Instead, it relies on surplus funds resulting from the budget passed by Republican legislators in 2011 to speed repayment of the borrowed money from schools by the previous DFL-controlled legislature.

As if our long and brutally cold winters don’t encourage enough people to leave Minnesota, this July might very well be remembered as Minnesota’s “Summer of Discontent” with the policies passed by Democrat legislators this session and put into effect this month.

Rep. Kathy Lohmer, R-Stillwater, represents District 39B in the Minnesota House of Representatives. Contact her at 651-296-4244 or by email at [email protected]