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Friday, September 16, 2011

"ALEC" Draz and Winona area Republicans embrace change

Tired of blaming Dayton for tax hikes, Draz and Winona area Republicans embrace change

Posted by Sally Jo Sorensen 

Chocolate_zombie_drazIn Minnesota tax hikes no surprise, the editorial board of the Fargo Forum writes:
Nobody should have been shocked this week to learn that elected officials representing Moorhead and Clay County gave preliminary approval to property tax increases. They did so grudgingly – Moorhead Mayor Mark Voxland cast the decisive vote on a divided City Council – and vowed that they’d keep scrutinizing the budgets to try to soften any tax hikes before final approval.
The city is forced to find ways to replace $827,000 in Local Government Aid and elimination of a homeowner tax credit paid to cities representing another $538,000 in lost revenue. The $1.3 million revenue gap is a direct consequence of the Minnesota Legislature’s refusal to raise statewide taxes – action that merely shifts the burden downstream to local governments. Cutting the city budget absorbs part of the gap, but the preliminary budget calls for an 8.3 percent increase in property tax, translating into $73 more in taxes on a $140,000 home.
Read the whole editorial which, like so many of Greater Minnesota's editorial judgments concerning the property tax shift, is as withering as an mid-September frost.  It leaves the legislative majority just as exposed as limp zucchini, defrosting in the garden:
So, while members of the Minnesota Legislature can crow about their achievement in holding the line on spending, local taxpayers repeatedly have been forced to pay higher property taxes – often cited by voters as the least popular tax. Ultimately, Minnesota voters will have to decide if they want that to continue.
The Mankato Free Press board observed that now Property tax boosts start with the state:
It will also be more difficult now for state legislators to say that property taxes are strictly a local decision and come from the local level. Clearly, the Legislature and the governor changed state law in a way that will likely cause local property taxes to rise, even if locals don’t increase their levies.
Looking to Minnesota's southeastern corner, it's not surprising to find ALEC model lawmaker Steve Drazkowski doing the sort of crowing that the Forum editors derided. For as the editors of the Winona Daily News recently pointed out with regard to local school levies, the corporate bill factory zombie has no shame.
Today's Winona Daily News reports in Lawmakers reconsider cutting property-tax creditthat Draz and his pals have broken with House GOP Tax Czar Greg Davids' gambit of blaming Dayton entirely for the elimination of the homestead credit. Now it's just tough love, perhaps the local government equivalent of torching a daughter's provocative panties.
Draz and other Southeastern Republicans aren't the ones doing the reconsideration mentioned in the headline. They're doing the sort of crowing scorned by the Forum and other editors:
"The credits make it difficult for our cities, counties, and townships to budget when they're not sure how much of a credit they'll receive from the state," said Jeremy Miller, R-Winona. "Everyone seems to agree that in the long run, the homestead exclusion will be better for the budget processes at the state and local level."
Miller must move in very small circles to think that "everyone seems to agree" that the homestead exclusion will be better. Perhaps he's merely riding the rhetoric of the world's smallest bandwagon. Howe has a slightly different cackle:
Sen. John Howe, R-Red Wing, and Rep. Steve Drazkowski, R-Mazeppa, agreed.
"By changing to an exclusion, the state's trying to be up front with counties and municipalities," said Howe. "When we make decisions on the local level, residents get better results."
But for Draz the Destroyer, it's pure anti-revenue template:
"We shouldn't make promises we can't keep with money we don't have, and that's just what reinstating the credits would do," said Drazkowski.
DFLers Ann Lenczewski and Paul Marquart proposed a bill this week to bring back the homestead value market credit.

Image: Chocolate Drazombie bunny, by Tild.

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