A Democratic state representative gave a passionate defense of taxes during a committee hearing Tuesday, saying his party is being “true to who we are” by proposing tax hikes.
Rep. Andy Smith, DFL-Rochester, called taxes a “wonderful tool that we have as people who live together in a state.”
MN Rep. Andy Smith says Democrats are "being true to who we are" by proposing tax increases. pic.twitter.com/4ya3qyyUIC
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“We know what happens when we add this and it’s good stuff. We get more money that we can use responsibly to help public services,” he said.
Minnesota Democrats have proposed roughly $2 billion in tax and fee increases this session, according to the Star Tribune, even with a record $17.5 billion budget surplus. On Tuesday, the House Taxes Committee debated a proposal to create a fifth income tax tier. The bill, HF 442, would apply a 10.85% tax rate to married joint filers who make at least $1 million, single filers who make $600,000 or more, and heads of household who earn $800,000 or more.
“All taxpayers are being asked to pay more and more. We could go through the whole litany of revenue raisers that the DFL is proposing this session. That’s what’s hard to understand. The state is not short on money right now, yet we’re being asked to pay more here, pay more there,” said Rep. Jon Koznick, R-Lakeville. “We don’t have a revenue problem; we have a spending problem.”
Rep. Smith claimed it is a myth that people are fleeing the state because of high taxes, saying the state is adding new filers to its highest tier.
“We can’t just cry wolf every time there’s some sort of increase in our tax system. I want to go even further and say taxes are not in and of themselves evil. They are ideally an expression of our society, what we think is good, how we want to live, how we want to relate to each other,” he said.
The first-term legislator then suggested that Democrats were elected in order to raise taxes.
“We want to fund programs … we’ve told all these people this. They understand it costs money and they voted us into office,” he said. “So I think we’re being true to who we are, who Minnesota is, in having these kinds of bills.”
The bill was laid over for inclusion in the omnibus tax bill. In budget targets released last month, Democrats said they plan to provide $3 billion in tax cuts.
House Minority Leader Lisa Demuth, R-Cold Spring, called it “unconscionable” to consider tax increases when Minnesotans are dealing with the impacts of inflation.
“Given the record $17.5 billion surplus, we should be passing meaningful tax relief and putting more money back in the pockets of Minnesotans,” she said. “But instead, Democrats are using their one-party rule to ram through their partisan wish list and grow government spending by a record 40 percent. This isn’t what Minnesotans want or deserve.”