Steve Drazkowski: Unwinding Minnesota Democrats' property tax political spin
MAZAPPA, Minn.--I'd like to respond to the propaganda written recently by State Rep. Paul Marquart, DFL-Dilworth ("Property taxes betray rural Minnesota," Viewpoint, Page A4, Nov. 28).
MAZAPPA, Minn.-I'd like to respond to the propaganda written recently by State Rep. Paul Marquart, DFL-Dilworth ("Property taxes betray rural Minnesota," Viewpoint, Page A4, Nov. 28).
Not only did Marquart unnecessarily bash Herald readers' local lawmaker-State Rep. Deb Kiel, R-Crookston-but also he also managed to disgustingly distort the truth in hopes of scoring political points.
In his attempt to rewrite history and gloss over his past legislative sins, Marquart claims Local Government Aid is not a Minnesota House priority. The fact is, House Republicans such as Kiel want more of that money sent to communities that truly need it-Greater Minnesota communities.
Last session, we proposed that Minneapolis, St. Paul and Duluth get an LGA reduction-not rural Minnesota cities. These are three major cities that, due to high populations, have the needed tax base to support themselves.
Kiel understands that LGA should be reserved for towns in Greater Minnesota that need the funds for critical services-not for major metropolitan cities that want to spend their money on nice-to-haves like street cars and light rail.
Along with prioritizing Greater Minnesota's LGA, Kiel also voted to use a portion of the state surplus to offset one-half of the school construction levy property tax for all Minnesota farmland; enact the Property Taxpayers' Empowerment Act, a measure that empowers voters with the ability to rescind overwhelming property tax increases that out-of-touch officials incur through runaway spending; and cut the state general tax, which is a state property tax that all local businesses pay in addition to their local property taxes.
Marquart believes the best way to help property taxpayers is to spend more of their money on LGA-especially in the Twin Cities. And about that $88 million LGA increase he and an all-Democratic-led Legislature approved in 2013-14? The Democrats gave Minneapolis and St. Paul disproportionately more than they did rural Minnesota communities-and property taxes still jumped in both metro and rural areas!
In the Metro Area, the average property tax increase was 2.1 percent, while in rural Minnesota, it was a staggering 4.2 percent.
Thanks to lawmakers like Marquart, Herald readers in northwestern Minnesota spent more so the Twin Cities could get a bigger piece of the LGA pie, and the readers paid higher property taxes to boot.
Finally, let's analyze the initial 2015 property tax numbers. Remember, this projection represents preliminary increases from cities, counties, school districts and townships. The local jurisdictions can, and many will, reduce their spending plans between now and the final certified levy decision date in late December.
Last year's preliminary levy increase amount-a direct reflection of Marquart's handiwork-was more than $321 million statewide and eventually was lowered when the certified levies were decided upon by local governments to be 2.9 percent statewide.
Folks, be glad Kiel is on your side and working hard for rural Minnesota's property taxpayers. And try to ignore the political rhetoric being pushed by Democrats who continually prioritize the Minneapolis property tax agenda. The truth simply is not on their side.
Minnesota State Rep. Drazkowski, R-Mazeppa, is chairman of the Minnesota House Property Tax and Local Government Finance Division.