Of all the battles I fight as Governor, none will be more important than taxes and spending in Minnesota. Cutting taxes and controlling spending is the simplest and fastest way we can help ALL Minnesotans prosper.
We've watched for years as both taxes and spending have soared to absurd levels in Minnesota, and it is hurting both our economy and millions of hard working families. We have lost sight of the fact that every dollar government spends is a dollar taken from a Minnesotan who has worked hard for it.
While surrounding states have cut taxes, controlled spending and improved their economies, we have gone in the opposite direction. We are both one of the highest taxed states in the nation and have seen state spending increase by over 50% in the last 10 years, with an increase of 9.5% in just the last legislative session!
The DFL is hopeless on this topic and, frankly, Republicans have not been without blame either. The good news: The people of Minnesota are on our side. Every single Minnesotan is burdened by the exorbitant taxes in this state and reversing the recent spending explosion leaves ample room to cut those taxes.
In the First 50 Days, I will take aggressive action on the following issues:
CUT INCOME TAXES–ESPECIALLY FOR THE LOWER BRACKETS
WHY: Minnesota's highest personal income tax bracket is 85% higher than the national average, but much more concerning to me: Minnesota's lowest income tax bracket is higher than the highest bracket in 22 other states. That lowest bracket (which applies to everyone making more than $10,350 per year) is nearly five times the lowest bracket of our neighboring states. We are not just taxing to death the CEO in Minnesota, we're taxing to death the school teacher, mechanic, bartender and every struggling small business owner in Minnesota.
ACTION: I will push for legislation that cuts income taxes across the board, and I'll make sure that the public know that Democrats - who claim to be only taxing the rich - actually oppose tax relief that would put money directly into the pockets of all Minnesotans.
END BIG CORPORATE SUBSIDIES
WHY: The days of passing laws to benefit select corporations need to come to an end. Especially under Mark Dayton, Minnesota has engaged in the "deal model" of economic development, which creates a hostile tax and regulatory climate for businesses but gives a few large corporations special tax advantages to create jobs in the state. This strategy might make for a nice ribbon-cutting photo-op for politicians, but it disadvantages every existing business in Minnesota that didn't get this special "deal."
ACTION: My focus will be on improving the tax and regulatory climate for ALL Minnesota businesses, creating partnerships to close the skills gap and increasing business export initiatives. We will not be giving out sweetheart deals that no one else gets in order to lure a big corporation to town.
ELIMINATE AUTOMATIC TAX INCREASES
WHY: Democrats in Minnesota love to increase taxes, but would prefer to hide tax increases through automatic "inflators" that increase taxes every year without any legislative action. One example is the business property tax, which was set to automatically increase each year, and increased revenue by 46% between 2002 and 2016. Collections from the tax grew faster than inflation and prevented businesses in Greater Minnesota from investing in jobs and growing our economy. Instead of realizing this was a terrible policy, the DFL is now pushing to bring it back again.
ACTION: I will oppose any tax that has an automatic increase. If politicians want to increase taxes - any taxes - they should be forced to take a vote to do so.
STOP TAXING SENIORS' SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFITS
WHY: Minnesota is one of only four states in the nation that tax Social Security Benefits. When combined with our taxing of pensions, we are punishing seniors by double-taxing them and making Minnesota an unfriendly place to stay once retired.
ACTION: I will push through and sign into law an end to taxation of social security benefits in Minnesota once and for all.
ELIMINATE THE BUSINESS PROPERTY TAX
WHY: Minnesota is one of the few states in the country (and the only one in our region) to impose a statewide business property tax. This makes Minnesota less competitive. The state property tax levy hits businesses of all sizes, and typically accounts for 30% - 35% of a business' property tax bill. If not for this tax, businesses would have more funds to invest in employees, growing their business and helping our economy.
ACTION: I will push for legislation that eliminates the statewide business property tax and makes Minnesota more competitive with our neighboring states and encourages businesses to invest in our economy.
CAP PROPERTY TAX INCREASES
WHY: The property tax is the least fair tax in Minnesota. Year after year property tax bills tick upward and hit people living on fixed incomes (usually seniors) extremely hard. Everyone talks about raising disposable incomes; the best way to do it is to lower taxes. Capping property tax increases is common sense, will benefit all property owners and especially helps seniors.
ACTION: I will introduce and fight for a cap on property tax increases. Not only will this provide economic certainty to Minnesotans, it will ensure people aren't taxed out of their homes over time and increase disposable income for millions.
ACROSS THE BOARD SAVINGS
WHY: When state spending rises by over 50% in 10 years and by 9.5% in the 2017 legislative session alone, it's ridiculous to argue that there is no room for savings in the state budget.
ACTION: Every one of my agency commissioners will have two overriding goals. First, to create a culture of service to the taxpayers withing their agencies, and second to identify savings in their budget areas and recommend spending that is lower each year than the last. My pledge is simple: I will not sign a budget in 2019 that is larger than the 2017 biennial budget. And once I present that budget, I will begin touring the state to bring the case for both my budget and the corresponding tax cuts to every corner of Minnesota.
AUDIT EVERY PROGRAM TAXPAYERS FUND IN MINNESOTA
WHY: Minnesotans are very generous people and willing to pay taxes to help the less fortunate among us get on their feet. The problem is, many of the programs we fund don't produce that result. As Governor, I will never forget that every dollar the government spends is taken from a hard-working Minnesotan and will require results and accountability of every program.
ACTION: As outlined in my Government Reform plan, in my first week as Governor, I will initiate a top to bottom audit of every program funded by Minnesota taxpayers to determine which programs are effective and which are not. Every single item that is flagged by the audit will be accompanied with a recommendation for fixing or eliminating it that will be sent simultaneously to my office and legislative leadership. We will celebrate those programs that are producing results and end those that are not.
INSTITUTE AN AUTOMATIC TAXPAYER REFUND
WHY: Historically in Minnesota, when we have a projected budget deficit, we slow the growth of spending and increase taxes to fill the hole. When there is a projected surplus (because government received more in taxes from Minnesotans than expected) government tends to spend much or all of that unexpected money and place it on the bottom line for the next budget. This practice of spending surplus tax revenue rather than returning it to taxpayers has played a significant role in the excessive spending increases of the past decade.
ACTION: One of my top priorities as Governor will be passage of an Automatic Taxpayer Refund provision that returns surplus tax revenue to taxpayers. This will ensure that the money from over-taxation goes back into Minnesotan's pockets rather than new state spending programs.