Legislators consider governor’s income tax proposal

As the state legislature considers ways to balance its budget, legislators will consider changes to the state’s income tax rate among other options for generating additional revenues.

Last week Gov. Mark Dayton outlined a budget proposal that called for a 2 percent increase in income taxes for couples earning more than $250,000 per year and individuals earning more than $150,000 per year.

“My proposal does not raise income taxes on 98 percent of Minnesota citizens,” he said.

According to a Minnesota Department of Revenue study, middle-income families pay 12.3 percent of their income in state and local taxes while the wealthiest 2 percent of Minnesotans pay 9.7 percent.

The Sun Current asked Bloomington’s legislators, “Do you support an income tax increase on Minnesota’s high-income residents?”

Responses from four of Bloomington’s five house and senate members are as follows:

Melisa Franzen, Senate District 49 (D-Edina): Our economy is gradually improving, but the recovery is slow. In this economic environment we face a challenging question: How do we pay for good government? I am determined that our state budget should meet the needs of the people of Minnesota in an honest and responsible way that does not rely on excessive borrowing or complicated accounting gimmicks. The existing tax structure in Minnesota is out of balance. Intelligent, comprehensive tax reform is needed.

The governor presented the Legislature with a broad-based proposal for reform. Now it’s time for the Legislature to respond and present our ideas for an honestly balanced budget. I am already involved in discussions to improve the governor’s proposal, and I will remain involved in this process. It’s a complex challenge that will require trade-offs and compromise. At this early stage in the process, it’s important to keep our eyes on the big picture rather than focus narrowly on a single element in the governor’s budget proposal. I invite you to call my office, or stop by at the Capitol, and share your thoughts on the governor’s budget proposal.

Ann Lenczewski, House District 50B (D-Bloomington): The Governor has consistently pointed out the fact that Minnesotans who earn the highest levels of income pay a smaller percentage of their income in taxes than do all other Minnesota income earners.

Because of this fact, I am willing to consider an adjustment to Minnesota’s income tax code to ameliorate this disparity.

I prefer that this change takes place more along the lines of the bipartisan agreement forged by both sides of the political aisle in Congress and the President.

While Governor Dayton prefers the $250,000 level, Congress chose the $400,000 level. As chair of the tax committee, we will hear from many Minnesotans on this issue at the state capitol.

Beginning next week, I will be taking testimony in the House Taxes Committee on the Governor’s tax proposal.  If you would like to attend and testify, please contact my capitol office at 651-296-4218 and we will be happy to have you join us.

Paul Rosenthal, House District 49B (D-Edina): I do not support punishing taxpayers for being more financially successful.

However, it is important to point out that the 2 percent higher income tax will only be paid on any amount over $150,000 for an individual or $250,000 for a couple. The amount of money made up until that threshold is taxed at the same rate for everyone.

Currently the wealthiest 2 percent of Minnesotans pay around 9 percent in taxes and the middle- and low-income earners pay 12 percent.  Ideally we would all pay the same percentage and that is something I’d like to work towards.

If I’m going to support a tax increase, I would like to see adequate cuts in government spending.  I support a balanced approach of cuts and revenue to balance the budget and invest in state priorities like education, roads and job creation.  I would welcome input from Bloomington residents as we work on these issues at the Capitol.

Melissa Halvorson Wiklund, Senate District 50 (D-Bloomington): I am open to proposals asking those who have greater means to pay more in taxes. I’m not sure if the thresholds in Gov. Dayton’s proposal are the right ones, but that is why hearings and public input are an important part of the decision-making process. I am studying the governor’s proposal and the Senate and the House will have their own as well. We need to work for a state budget that is balanced, fair and stable.

Linda Slocum, House District 50A (D-Richfield), did not respond.

To contact a legislator, visit www.house.mn for the Minnesota House of Representatives or www.senate.mn for the Minnesota Senate.