Torkelson vocalizes Republican criticism of Dayton tax proposals

NEW ULM – Rep. Paul Torkelson (R-Rural Hanska) vocalized locally on Friday the Republican Party’s opposition to Gov. Mark Dayton’s tax overhaul proposal.

Dayton presented a mix of tax ideas last week, such as lowering the state sale tax while expanding it to previously untaxed items like clothing costing more than $100 and taxing business-to-business transactions. He would also increase funding for programs such as early childhood education. The overall proposal raised various taxes across the state by $3.7 billion and increased spending by more than $2.5 billion.

In a statement, Torkelson argued that since the recent additional state school funding shift was repaid and state revenue has been coming in higher than projected, tax increases are an inappropriate method for approaching the state budget. He said that because of the current economic conditions in the state and the country, he opposed solving the state’s $1 billion budget deficit with anything but spending cuts and increased efficiency in programs.

He also objected to Dayton’s proposal to rebate all Minnesota homeowners $500 on their property taxes. He called the move an effort to buy the support of Minnesota residents. He also said the proposal is the same effort taken up by former Gov. Jesse Ventura, but worse because Dayton’s method will be taxed as income by federal taxes.

He said the Republicans will likely present their own state budget proposals in a few weeks. He said he would personally like the state tax system overhauled by simplification. He said there are around 55 classifications of property taxes that could be combined into a few classifications to make the system more understandable.

“The issues is that state’s tax system is huge and complex. We really need to tackle making it more understandable,” said Torkelson. “I was disappointed Dayton’s proposals does not address it at all.”

Josh Moniz can be e-mailed at

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