The 2013 Minnesota Legislature has ended, leaving in its trail one major question: Why?
As in why raise taxes $2 billion when there was already new revenue coming in to state coffers? True, there was a projected budget deficit of about $500 million, but these "deficits" represent a difference between what the state has planned to pay out and what it is able to pay. When revenue is insufficient, a state should prioritize its spending. Instead, Democrats who control the Legislature are reveling in their power, happy that they were able to "achieve" higher taxes on wealthier Minnesotans, smokers, businesses and the citizens who will patronize those businesses.
DFL state chairman Ken Martin is talking about the "investments" the party has made in the middle class. When the government takes citizens' money from them and decides how to spend it in the role of societal expert, that is not an "investment." It is nanny-statism. When people are allowed to keep more of what they earn, and use it for purposes they deem important to their individual lives, that is actual investment. By them, for them, for their own benefit. These actual investments benefit others, in the form of jobs.
Martin is not talking about the fresh burdens to taxpayers that the DFL's "investments" become. Government programs never die, and they expand over time. That's where "deficits" come from.
Martin does not even mention the business to business sales tax that will be passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices. Nor does he talk about how Minnesota's business climate will now be less competitive, given higher taxes and DFL lawmakers backing of a forced unionization vote by daycare providers, who are independent small businesses.
All of this comes after a decade in which Minnesota - Republican lawmakers, actually - made real progress trimming back government overreach. Not everyone liked the reduced role for government, but everyone saw that it was possible, and they had adapted or were adapting. Now, DFLers have pushed us again toward the notion that government comes first. That is a move backward.