Thursday, March 29, 2007

The tax tyranny of the majority 

The DFL majority in the Minnesota Legislature has been upset with House Republican Leader Marty Seifert, whose criticism of the DFL's tax plans have left at least one DFL leader sputtering. One Democrat announces "there's a lot of taxes in this bill" -- an announcement that Gary Gross notices in this morning's paper -- and the best the liberal news media can come up with is to tell Seifert to take a deep breath. A letter sent around to DFL activists by the party's leadership is trying to whip up LTE support:
Representative Seifert has taken the typical political grandstanding to be expected from a minority party to a new low. He hides behind feeble attempts at folksy "Seifert-isms" to get away with extremely disingenuous criticism. He is more interested in scoring political points, and in obstructing the legislative process, than in taking care of the people's business.
Taking care of the people's business in this case means taking away your money. (Bless you, Rep. Thao -- that's the gift that keeps on giving.) They will say it goes to education, of course, but that should come as no surprise when one looks at $1.5 million in campaign contributions.

Rep. Seifert called this a "badge of honor" and notes the new bonding bill -- normally a smallish thing in budget years -- has a quarter-billion in new projects and uses $120 million from the surplus in the current year that would normally go as a tax rebate. In a press release this morning, the Republicans have fired back that they will not support any tax increases:
"Fiscal responsibility is more than a campaign slogan. It is a principle by which we govern," said House Republican Leader Marty Seifert. "We have a $34 billion budget. There is room in this budget to fund education and healthcare, and there is room to provide tax relief. Minnesota taxpayers should not be asked to shoulder the burden of multi-billion dollar tax increases."

Citing Governor Pawlenty's clear direction that he will veto any tax increase, Senate and House Republicans said any bill that uses revenue from a proposed tax increase is a waste of time.

"We have spent weeks funding legislative priorities with money that doesn't exist. We stand firm with Governor Pawlenty that government growth should not exceed the growth of family income," Senjem said. "The Democrats need a back-up plan because Governor Pawlenty's vetoes will be upheld in both bodies of the Minnesota Legislature."
According to every source I've heard, this is true. Assuming no change in the two positions, the odds of a special session are rising by the moment, and I'll put the odds of a July shutdown at only 4-to-1 against at this point. (That is, if you would put up $5 against my $1, I'd take a bet that there will be a shutdown of the state government.)

You can bet this will be material for The Final Word this Saturday.

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