Gov. Tim Walz and Democrats in St. Paul want to hike taxes on everyone who drives to work. The plan proves particularly egregious for our family. I’m a self-employed courier, so fuel costs come right out of my family’s bottom line. As we sit down to plan for coming weeks, we wonder whether those elected to govern set priorities in the manner we have to set ours.
If Walz gets his way and the price of gas goes up 20 cents per gallon, it will cost my family more than $1,600 annually. That’s a mortgage payment, plus a car payment, with a bit left over for some groceries. Unlike the government, we can’t simply “increase revenue” with the stroke of a pen. Our choice is to either earn more, which would prove difficult given the four jobs we currently work, or cut from elsewhere in our budget.
I’m left wondering why our family should have to look for cuts in our budget while the state’s only increases. If roads aren’t a high enough priority to fund with cuts to the state’s budget, why should our family have to fund it with cuts in ours?
Walter Hudson, Albertville
• • •
As a conservative, I don’t generally support large tax increases. That said, our governor has asked for a 20-cent increase in the gas tax. I’m not sure that is enough. Our roads are in terrible shape. I’d support an even larger tax.
Let’s see how our roads are paid for. Assume the average vehicle gets 25 miles per gallon and is driven 15,000 miles per year. That calculates to 600 gallons of fuel per year, and the tax, which would be 48 cents per gallon (if the governor’s request if approved), would be a little less than $300 per year. I’m willing to pay that amount.
How do the hybrid and electric vehicles support our roads? The hybrids probably pay half of $300, or $150 per year. The owner of the electric vehicle pays nothing, yet still has the use of our roads. I propose that all hybrids pay a supplemental tax of $150 per year and owners of electric vehicle owners pay $300 per year. At this rate, all users of our roads pay the same amount to support the maintenance of our roads.
C.J. Koegl, Brooklyn Park
Opinion editor’s note: A $75 annual surcharge on electric vehicles took effect in 2018. A proposal in the Legislature this year would raise it to $250. The proposal — SF 1409 / HF 2026 — also would establish a $125 surcharge on hybrid vehicles.
• • •
When comparing transportation costs, just about everyone who shows the math to make a point does so incorrectly, as a March 22 letter on rising Metro Transit costs exhibits. You can’t just compute your gas and parking costs and be done with it. It costs anywhere from 45 to 75 cents a mile to operate most vehicles, with the IRS granting 58 cents a mile as the average deduction. (And you can’t say you already have the vehicle and just compute the out-of-pocket marginal costs; that’s not the way true cost accounting works.)
If we assume the author travels 10 to 20 miles round trip, that’s $5.80 to $11.60 a day plus $1 a day for parking. The March 22 letter writer admirably carpools, halving those costs. But, wait, there’s more. That $20-a-month parking rate is an incentive rate heavily subsidized by other drivers paying the regular $100 to $140 monthly rate, or by his municipal/county tax dollars. Likewise, his tax dollars going into the construction and maintenance of the portion of the trunk highways devoted to commuting automobile traffic are not included. Nor are the prorated auxiliary costs for medical services for that portion of motorists killed and injured while commuting. Adding that all in will tip the person-mile commuting cost significantly toward the bus or light rail for just about everyone.
The author also admirably advocates for additional public subsidy, which makes great economic sense, but this will fall on deaf ears in the Legislature, because lawmakers have frequently demonstrated that they don’t know how to add, either.
Dennis Fazio, Minneapolis
SUMMARY OF MUELLER REPORT
Overreaching in ‘exoneration’
Understandably I had to read the March 26 headline “GOP says Trump deserves an apology” (with the inside-page continuation of the front-page article “Dems demand full Mueller file”) twice to make sure I had it right. I believe that apology should follow an apology by President Donald Trump to the family of Sen. John McCain; to POWs; to the family of U.S. Army Capt. Humayun Khan, who was killed during the Iraq war; to the disabled people Trump has mocked; to former Hewlett-Packard executive and political candidate Carly Fiorina; to the pope; to climate scientists; to “Little Marco” Rubio and to “Lyin’ Ted” Cruz. An apology to those who voted for Trump after he said, during the campaign that “I won’t be playing golf — I’ll be too busy” would also be appropriate. For those not keeping score, that golf lie was among the more than 9,000 he has told so far.
Thomas Edwards, Forest Lake
• • •
The headline “Dems demand full Mueller file” seems to ignore the unanimous 420-0 vote taken in the House on March 14. The resolution calls “for the public release of any report Special Counsel [Robert] Mueller provides to the Attorney General, except to the extent the public disclosure of any portion thereof is expressly prohibited by law.” It also calls for the full report to be released to Congress. The unanimous passage of this bill in the House would seem to indicate that there are at least some Republicans who are also in favor of releasing the full Mueller report. Or have they now changed their minds?
Bob Jackson, Coon Rapids
• • •
U.S. Rep. Jim Hagedorn of Minnesota’s First District called the special-counsel investigation “a shameful waste of taxpayer dollars.” I didn’t see any reaction from him about wasting taxpayer dollars when Trump shut down the government. What about the expensive multiple trips to Mar-a-Lago laden with all those security officers? Eight billion for a border wall that really won’t secure the border — isn’t that a waste of taxpayer dollars?
Thousands of immigrants held in detention, a situation exasperated by this administration’s policies, costing millions of taxpayer dollars.
And speaking of taxpayer dollars, has Trump paid all his taxes? Will we ever know?
Nancy Olmsted, Excelsior
Leave things as they are
As the owner of a local, independent liquor retailer in Minneapolis, I’m writing to provide some needed perspective to claims in a March 25 letter.
The letter writer pushes for easier access to alcohol in convenience stores. I disagree. Easier access to alcohol, a regulated substance, shouldn’t be available to those under 21 years old. Placing alcohol on the shelves where there are many people under 21 as both customers and employees is not responsible.
Second, alcohol everywhere — in convenience stores and other outlets — is not in the best interest of public safety or health. The World Health Organization and others recognize the strong association between outlet density and excessive alcohol consumption and related harms.
Third, the author complains about his sales loss of 3.2 beer in grocery stores due to Sunday sales. We ran the numbers with beer wholesalers, and the average loss to a convenience store is around $10 a week. In addition, lower-alcohol beer is also a growing trend.
Fourth, if a convenience store wants to sell full-strength alcohol, it can — through a separate entrance and following the same smart and balanced alcohol regulations that liquor stores do. In fact, 163 stores in Minnesota already do!
Finally, according to Minnesotans4Choices.com, alcohol everywhere would reduce the selection of products at new retailers like gas stations, including local craft-beer selections, that Minnesota consumers currently enjoy from liquor retailers. Let’s keep the current system that works.
Jennifer Schoenzeit, Minneapolis
The writer is the owner of Zipps Liquors.