Tricounty News

Taxpayers League of Minnesota e-Update

 1.  Coming to a City Near You Minnesota House of Representatives has announced their plans to provide for listening sessions around the state of Minnesota so that citizens can tell legislators their thoughts on the state budget deficit.  These meetings will take place in rural Minnesota on February 19th and 20th.  The meetings will also take place in the metro area from February 23rd through the 26th.    You can count on the fact that the special interests will make sure their people are at the meetings to highlight how their funding is absolutely essential.  We need to make sure taxpayers also go and speak at these meetings to explain that the state budget is unsustainable and certain program funding must be eliminated or reduced as a way of solving the state deficit because in these economic times, families and small businesses cannot afford more tax increases.    Here is the link to the website that has the Town Hall Meeting schedule;    www.house.leg.state.mn.us/budgettownhallmeetings.asp    Please let us know if you will attend one of these meetings.   2.  Tax Rate Comparison Update The non-profit Tax Foundation is the group that highlights tax freedom day every year, which is the day when all Americans have made enough money to pay their tax obligation. They recently released their list of comparable state to state rates on sales, gas, alcohol, and cigarette taxes.  Here is the link to the tax rates; http://www.taxfoundation.org/taxdata/show/245.html  Only five states pay a higher sales tax rate and yet with the passage of the constitutional amendment for outdoor recreation, arts, and cultural heritage you know some groups will be coming to the capitol to ask for a sales tax increase or to expand the sales tax to other services currently not taxed. 3.  Build It and They Will Come In "exciting" news to pro-transit tax and spenders, Congressman Jim Oberstar has recently said that he wants the Cost Effectiveness Index (CEI) to be eliminated.  The CEI is the measurement of the cost of transit riders that determines whether or not transit projects receive federal funding.  That number for the central corridor between Minneapolis and St. Paul is $24.41 per rider and has caused planners to eliminate some of the more costly aspects of the project like a tunnel beneath the University of Minnesota and shortening the length of the line. Pro-Transit supporters are claiming that the CEI doesn't take into account the "potential" of business and housing development that happens around transit stations so Congressman Oberstar, who is the powerful Chairman of the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, is recommending that the Obama administration get rid of the CEI requirement.  Another example of 'build it' and taxpayers will have to cover the cost of the ongoing subsidies. 4.  Federal Subsidy will mask City's Wasteful Spending Minneapolis Mayor Rybak recently held a press conference and surrounded himself with Minneapolis Police and Firefighters.  But while he didn't say the city's budget problems would force him to cut essential services like police and fire, he did say he would request $3 million of the federal bailout money in order to hire 60 people to insulate homes in Minneapolis.  In a city that has difficulty managing its own budget, it is bizarre to think that Mayor Rybak wants to hire more government employees.  Disregarding the fact that this would be a questionable use of taxpayer dollars, aren't there enough private sector companies that could do the home insulation projects?  Taxpayers League President Phil Krinkie responded in a KARE 11 interview that there is no final decision on how much federal money the state will get.  Is it any wonder why Minneapolis is a black hole for taxpayer dollars?  5.  Lobbyists Outnumber Legislators 4 to 1 The Mesabi Daily News recently published an article highlighting the fact that registered lobbyists with the state of Minnesota outnumber legislators 4 to 1.  Lobbyists' estimated expenses in the last legislative session were estimated to be $50 million.  These expenses were for lobbyists' salaries, political donations and association expenditures, which critics say undermine the influence of normal citizens in the legislative process. One more reason to support the Taxpayers League of Minnesota so your voice for limited government and less taxation will be heard.