Now that this year’s legislative session — otherwise known as “DFLers gone wild” — is mercifully over, Minnesota’s monopoly party can get to work planning its next assault on American tradition.
On so many fronts — taxes, spending, regulations and social policy — Minnesota took the largest leap leftward in a generation. Egged on by Gov. Mark Dayton, whose obsession with other people’s income seems limitless, the DFL-dominated Legislature actually wound up enacting a $2 billion deficit where none existed.
Why? So it could raise taxes on those individuals and businesses guilty of the crime of prospering too much. Getting the top 2 percent to pay their “fair share” was, of course, justified, say the redistributionists, because we could then take their money and give it to others via “property tax relief.”
But doubling down on a failed “Minnesota Miracle” shouldn’t fool anyone who has seen their own property levies skyrocket since the state embarked on subsidizing local government in the 1970s.
Does any serious observer believe that exempting cities and counties from state sales taxes (while extending them on the private sector) will reduce your local taxes one penny? No, cities, counties and school districts will do exactly what they’ve done for decades — increase their budgets.
Moreover, the whole “fair share” nonsense rings especially hollow when you consider the impact of Minnesota’s top new income tax rate of 9.85 percent, the fourth-highest in the nation. While the billion-dollar tax will hit wages the hardest, it also falls on 53 percent of non C-corp business income in the state, according to data from the Revenue Department.
Some big corporations and their nonprofit counterparts, on the other hand, came out smelling like a rose. Massive tax breaks and subsidies were found for the Mayo Clinic, the Mall of America, 3M, Baxter Healthcare Group, the Xcel Energy Center and, of course, a new Vikings stadium — courtesy of cigarette smokers everywhere.
Oh, and let’s not forget the latest environmental handout in the form of new solar energy mandates. Coupled with Minnesota’s already onerous renewable portfolio standards, this special-interest carve-out is so transparently costly to ratepayers that the legislation had to exempt a hodgepodge of selected industries lucky enough to have lobbyists at the Capitol.
Public pensions were also bailed out to the tune of $15.5 million, and government workers got a pay hike, which ironically enough will boost, well, their public pensions.
Heck, elected Democrats even set themselves up for a nice raise by putting an initiative on the ballot in 2016 that would form a legislative pay council appointed by the governor and chief justice of the Supreme Court. This way lawmakers won’t be accountable for setting their own salaries and benefits. How convenient.
Yes, big government can be good to its friends. The $16 billion education bill with all-day kindergarten, as well as the bizarre formation of a statewide day care cartel that siphons off taxpayer-funded child care assistance to AFSCME, increases the power of the DFL’s greatest ally, public-sector unions.
And while insisting there would be no great social agenda this session, these duplicitous Democrats anointed gay marriage at the behest of a vocal lobby of activists, corporate chieftains, and an obsequious news media reluctant to examine the societal ramifications of overturning 2,000 years of social policy.
Republicans can complain about overreach all they want — the damage has been done. The radical conservatism necessary to overturn decades of government activism is anathema to GOP kingmakers who deep down don’t really believe it can win here. And winning is all the résumé builders care about.
DFLers suffer under no such illusions. They are true believers, who will gladly fall on the sword to get legislation passed. Say what you will, but Democrats are not caretakers, because even if they lose the next election they know Republicans won’t actually repeal what they’ve done. They never have.
This is how liberalism triumphs in Minnesota.
Jason Lewis is a nationally syndicated talk-show host based in Minneapolis-St. Paul and is the author of “Power Divided is Power Checked: The Argument for States’ Rights” from Bascom Hill Publishing. He can be heard locally from 5 to 8 p.m. on NewsTalk Radio, 1130-AM, and at jasonlewisshow.com.