By Doug Grow | 02/06/13
In recent years, Minnesota has had a governor with big personal ambitions and a governor with a big ego.
But a Big Idea?
No matter your position on Gov. Mark Dayton’s budget/tax proposal, there’s no denying it’s Big.
“This idea is at least as big as Wendy Anderson’s Minnesota Miracle in 1971,” said Roger Moe, a DFLer who was in the Senate for more than three decades, 22 of those years as the Senate’s majority leader, meaning he worked in close relationship with a long line of governors.
“These are fundamental tax policy changes he’s talking about,” he said.
Dayton to make his case Wednesday
Dayton gets the chance to make his case to skeptical legislators and Minnesota citizens Wednesday night in his 7 p.m. State of the State address.
Former Republican Gov. Arne Carlson, who is among the doubters, takes a different view of Dayton’s Big Idea.
He believes “planning and prudence” should be the Big Ideas of governance.
Dayton’s idea may be Big, but Carlson doesn’t believe it’s well thought out. He’s not sure that the Dayton idea, which would create a fourth income tax tier and broaden the sales tax base at the same time the rate is lowered, meets either of those criteria.
In terms of planning, Carlson doesn’t think that Dayton has created “constituencies” ready for his ideas.
Former Gov. Arne Carlson rejects plan
In terms of prudence, Carlson is not ready to accept the idea that Minnesota government needs $2 billion more, which is the amount of increased revenue projected in the Dayton proposal.(Initially, half of that $2 billion would be used to pay down the state budget deficit, and most of the rest would go to increased aid to all levels of public education.)
Although Anderson’s legacy is the Minnesota Miracle (which involved lowering property taxes and raising income taxes to create statewide equity in school funding), Carlson believes Anderson’s Best Idea was the creation of a committee that was to study periodically the effectiveness of state government.
“In Minnesota, we tend to follow our Scandinavian heritage,” Carlson said.“We’re liberal on the social issues but prudent when it comes to spending money. But Democrats are as uncomfortable with the word ‘prudence’ as most Republicans are with the word ‘tax.’”
Minnesotans, he believes, have to be sold very deliberately on why they should be spending more.
Dayton has argued that he has done the due diligence needed to advance his Big Idea. Cuts were made, virtually across state government, in the last legislative session, and his revenue commissioner, Myron Frans, spent more than a year on the road listening to constituencies.
The messages Frans says he heard: Get a grip on property taxes, bring stability to state government finances and fund education.
The proposed fourth-tier income tax increase follows through on the “tax the rich” theme that propelled Dayton into office. The proposed changes in the sales tax, he says, will bring stability to future state budgets.
More at http://www.minnpost.com/politics-policy/2013/...