Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A stroll down memory lane with the Deputy

Geoff Michel -- aka the Deputy -- had a vapor lock in the Strib over commercial-industrial property taxes levied by the state. The state has levied commercial-industrial taxes state-wide since the dawn of civilization; it is time to get rid of the anachronism! Right? Well, not exactly.

The existence of the state-wide levy of commercial-industrial property taxes is almost exactly co-extensive with the Deputy's tenure in the Minnesota Senate.

A coincidence, you say? Hardly.

Perhaps some of you will recall that we had several years of budget surpluses in the late 90s (when Bill Clinton was the president, by the way), and we rebated the surpluses to taxpayers. In the final year of the Ventura administration, we made income tax reductions to the permanent income tax code in Minnesota. If memory serves, and I believe it does, even though the Senate was in DFL hands, John Marty was the only DFL senator to vote against the permanent income tax reductions.

We elected Tim Pawlenty in 2002 -- and the fresh-faced Geoff Michel, too, who campaigned on allowing conceal and carry for handguns, whether he admits it now or not -- and the worm, of course, turned. The economy was heading south, and Governor Gutshot and the other Grover Norquist vassals, like the Deputy, had pledged that they "wouldn't raise taxes." So they couldn't very well agree to raise the income taxes back to where they were. I mean, Grover would be pissed. Not to mention Davey Strom.

And thus began the decade that explains where we are now. (These permanent income tax reductions cost the state's treasury billions of dollars, and if timely reversed probably would have erased the cumulative deficit we've run up.)

What to do? Well, inter alia, kick the can down the road on public school finance, steal millions from the Health Care Access Fund, and engage in every other check-kiting scheme that Gutshot and the Deputy (who wasn't the Deputy at the time, but merely a willing apparatchik) could think of. Including leaving in place a 2001 deal that imposed a new state property tax on commercial and industrial property, and seasonal recreational property, again with the complicity of the DFL senate chamber.

We've had ten years of trying to push off state-wide obligation on to the counties and the municipalities, and this property tax is Exhibit A. Trying to cut off LGA for the core cities when they contribute the most commercial industrial property taxes to the state is another exhibit. It is shameful and shameless, a simple poaching on a local revenue source for state obligations.

It is churlish for the Deputy, in the closing days of 2011, to piss and moan about a tax that has existed only since he took office and which helped him and rest of Gutshot's vassals avoid the discussion about income taxes for ten years.

Compared to the corporate income tax, the state-wide commercial industrial property tax is stupid and regressive: more harmful to small business than large. On the other hand, the Deputy -- bright light that he is -- also advocated the elimination of the corporate income tax.

Michel's the name; eliminate's the game: just an irresponsible lickspittle for corporate interests.

No comments: