Monday, April 30, 2007

Tax death certificate 

This is the death certificate that House Republican Leader Marty Seifert waved at lawmakers while speaking on the floor of the Minnesota House last Friday. His efforts may have been helpful in peeling off 11 DFL legislators -- including St. Cloud Rep. Larry Haws -- from supporting the DFL income tax increase (not "shift in tax burden" as the DFLTribune published Saturday morning.) Seifert has a press release that most papers covered, but you have to read the text of what he said on the House floot to get this. Seifert's office sent this to me a little bit ago. While realizing this is a little long it is an excellent summation of the House Republican position, so here it is:
"Madame Speaker:

"If you didn't get the message today, I will repeat it one last time.

"A $2.2 billion surplus ought to be enough. A 9.8% increase in spending ought to be enough.

"The average person out there has figured it out. But the Democrats in this chamber have not.

"And we are trying to figure out if this bill is shameful or shameless in all of its tax increases.

"Madam Speaker, we have a Certificate of Death for this bill before us today. It is frankly a waste of our time, as Rep. Pelowski has said, in marking up a bill that is going to meet the fate of a veto.

"Every single member of this Caucus will sustain it, and I would suspect that some folks on the other side of the aisle, in the Democratic Caucus, would be very uncomfortable in voting for an override as well.

"You are asking for $784 million in new taxes while we have a budget surplus.

"You are asking for a new gift tax to go after dead people. Thank you, Rep. Joe Mullery of Minneapolis.

"You are raising taxes by hundreds of millions of dollars on job providers. You get less of what you tax and more of what you subsidize. You are going to tax job providers more, so you will have fewer of them in this state . . . and fewer jobs.

"You have people on the Democrats' side of the aisle who say they are pro-jobs, but they are going to vote against job providers today. That is like saying you are pro-egg, while you are voting against the chicken. Where in the world do you think jobs come from? They come from job-providers, from growing markets.

"You are asking for $18 million more in tobacco taxes.

"You are asking for $4 million more in taxes on contractors.

"You are asking for millions more in a tax on snowbirds, as I call them.

"And of course, you put back in the tax on hockey tickets after we debated that for hours the other night and found another way to fund the hockey museum. You just couldn't help yourselves, could you? We shamed you into removing the tax the other day, and you snuck it back in. Congratulations. The 10-year-olds who are going to hockey games get to pay higher taxes because the Democrats need more of your money. I didn't know all those 10- and 15-year-olds around the State of Minnesota who are going to hockey games were "rich" people.

"Don't try to fool the people of this State, riding into town with your square wheeled wagons and trying to sell the elixir of high taxes.

"The elixir of high taxes is not selling. If it was, you would see 90 plus votes on the board for this bill. You will be lucky to get 72 votes [not a bad piece of forecasting; the bill got 75 --kb] , because people are not buying the elixir of high taxes.

"Where are the DFL moderates? Where are the people who campaigned as fiscal moderates last year? Was it just rhetoric, or was it reality? Let's look at some quotes, shall we?

"Rep. Paul Gardner of Shoreview was quoted as saying "I don't envision suburban Democrats going for an income tax or sales tax increase." Indeed, he won't be in office two years from now if such tax increases take place. It was a pleasure to serve with you, Rep. Gardner. Your Caucus is going to throw you under the bus wheel of tax increases.

"Speaker Kelliher, you were quoted at the Chamber dinner as saying "we can do it with what we have."

"Mike Hatch was quoted at the State Convention as saying "we can do this without raising taxes."

"Rep. Tony Sertich said the $530 million in additional money the new DFL programs would need "is well within the growth of the state."

"At the State Fair, Rep. Sertich and then-Minority Leader Kelliher said no tax increases would be needed, although they promised to push for collecting currently-unpaid taxes.

"Gary Eichten on Minnesota Public Radio asked the Speaker "other than a possible gas tax increase, do you see any need to raise taxes in the next couple of years?" Madam Speaker, you answered "No."

"Madam Speaker, at another event, you said "increasing taxes is not a top priority." You also said "I don't foresee any major changes in our taxing structure on business."

"Two days after the election, Speaker Kelliher also said that she did not expect Democrats to try to raise the state income tax, which House Republicans succeeded in cutting twice shortly after they took control of the House in 1998. Madam Speaker, you said "we are a fiscally moderate caucus."

"Oh, really? What's the definition of "fiscal moderates" these days?

"We get $1 billion of tax increases proposed by the Speaker and the House Democrats.

"The voters of the state voted for one thing last fall, and now we're being sold a bill of goods, and they're not buying it.

"Here is the language of the new DFL tax form: "How much money did you make last year? Now please send it in."

"You are offering unsustainable spending increases.

"You are offering unsustainable tails, or spending in future years.

"You are offering unsustainable budgets.

"And now you are offering unsustainable tax increases.

"You are living in a fantasy land. You are living on Gilligan's Island, and you are trying to figure how to get off. And it is not working. The people are not buying it.

"Our positive agenda in saying no to the tax increases today will result in more good-paying jobs, growing our economy, and letting people keep more of their hard-earned money.

"I know that he who promises to rob Peter to pay Paul will always have the support of Paul. The robbers are here today.

"But you are robbing people from throughout the state to make government bigger. You are robbing St. Peter to pay St. Paul.

"But you are also robbing Minnetonka, Rep. Maria Ruud and Rep. John Benson.

"You are also robbing Woodbury, Representatives Julie Bunn and Marsha Swails.

"You are also robbing Rochester, Representatives Kim Norton, Andy Welti, and Tina Liebling.

"I think all of you Representatives are good people and wonderful personalities. But at the end of the day, you are empowering liberal leaders to take more money out of your constituents' pockets.

"At the end of the day, you are empowering liberal leaders who said one thing last November, but are doing something terribly different today.

"It is not fair to the voters.

"You are simply taking the tax ax to the golden goose that lays the golden eggs of jobs in this state.

"You are going to have one big feast of property tax reductions . . . not in this year . . . but surprise, surprise, in 2008, the election year.

"You're going to have a nice big feast at the expense of the taxpayers while jobs continue to move out, while people hide income, while people hide from the tax collectors. Unfortunately, many of the people who create jobs are frankly just going to move out of the state because of the policies that you people are setting up today.

"Madam Speaker, we heard a lot about bipartisanship last year. There is no bipartisanship in or for this Tax Bill. There is not one Member of the Republican Caucus who is going to vote for it. And the Governor is going to veto it.

"Madam Speaker, recently you and I spoke to the Citizens League at the Allianz facility in Golden Valley. Rep. Winkler was there, and so was Rep. Garofalo. We were asked on tape in front of the Citizens League "will there be more income taxes." There were lots of people there who make more than you or me. And the answer from the Speaker was "No."

"Madam Speaker, you were right when you said that there will not be income tax increases this year. But the reason is not because of the Democrats. The reason is in spite of the Democrats. The reason there will be no more income taxes this year is because of the Governor and the House Republicans. That is the second part of the answer.

"And I think everyone in this Chamber knows that. Rep. Pelowski knows that and he was wise enough to tell everyone.

"Don't waste your time. The Legislative session is over three weeks from Monday, and we are arguing about a tax increase that is not going to happen. It is not going to happen.

"Madam Speaker, we did not offer amendments to this terrible tax bill, and I will tell you why. You and I grew up on farms. I grew up on a hog farm and you grew up on a dairy farm. We know that you do not pay a veterinarian to come out to the farm to save a hog that is already dead. This tax bill is a dead hog. The Senate will push through one that is even worse, and the Governor will veto it.

"Members, this hog is dead. It is dead on arrival. Vote Red."

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