Pioneer Press Commentary: Minnesota Legislature: Excessive spending and taxing, and overreach
John Cooney, AFP-Minnesota State Director
The 2013 legislative session has proven to be an object lesson in why the Founders of America decided to impose checks and balances in the structure of our government: the more obstacles there are to governing, the less our legislators will be inclined to overreach.
Unfortunately, when the two houses of the Legislature and the governor are of the same party, there are a lot fewer checks and balances than usual. It has been two decades since that has happened in Minnesota, and I guess we forgot what a bad idea it turns out to be.
When politicians bicker they are annoying. When they are working together they can do real damage.
The recently-concluded session wound up looking like an episode of “Animal Kingdom,” with a feeding frenzy of tax increases, spending increases, new restrictions on job creators, wacky environmental regulations and blatant payoffs to their union allies.
Excessive government growth and spending: This budget increases public spending at an astonishing 8 percent clip, a rate with which the revenue-generating private sector economy simply cannot keep pace. How many Minnesota families or small businesses have watched their budgets grow by eight percent over two years? How many have grown at all? Thankfully, economic forecasts indicate that our state is moving in the right direction, but not at the breakneck pace that easily allows for rapid growth in government spending. This is not a matter of argument or degree — it is arithmetic. To continue on such an unsustainable path of growing government beyond the means of our economy is to invite the danger that our government may suffocate the very people, families and small businesses it claims to protect and promote.
Excessive taxation: So if government is growing faster than the economy, where is the money coming from? This budget raises an alarming $2 billion in total new taxes, further limiting the freedom of all Minnesotans and endangering the economic growth that is the foundation of our prosperity. Every dollar sent to St. Paul is one dollar less an individual will have to pursue his or her hopes and dreams, start or grow a business, buy a home or attend school, or get married and raise a family. The party in power campaigned on a platform of raising taxes, but only on “the rich.” Well, they did raise taxes on the rich, but on everybody else too. And if it weren’t for massive public outcry, the tax increases on the middle class would have been crushing. Still, it is clear that when the governor decided to grow government spending, the legislative majorities set their sights on raising middle class taxes (there just aren’t enough “rich” people to go around), and succeeded in taking a bite out of everybody’s paycheck.
Excessive overreach: Even if you agree with Gov. Dayton that government should spend more, there was plenty to hate about the payoffs, power plays and overreach the Legislature showed this session. No clearer example of this overreach exists than the passage of legislation to unionize childcare providers and personal care attendants. Editorial boards opposed it. Providers opposed it. Mothers and fathers opposed it. Just to be clear, most of these child-care providers are small-business people themselves, so in essence they are going to be forced into paying for a union that represents them against no management except themselves. These small, independent businesses are being used as nothing more than a source of dues for the very unions who spent millions of dollars giving us one-party rule in St. Paul, and this bill was nothing more than political payback.
Chances are that Minnesotans will make the Gov. Mark Dayton and his liberal allies pay for their excesses. Unfortunately, Minnesotans will be left to live with this budget and the damage it will cause.
We believe Minnesotans deserve a more responsible approach than that. Our economic freedom and future vitality depend on it.