Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Senate Taxes Committee: let the people vote

Yesterday the Senate Taxes Committee voted unanimously to deny Hennepin County an exemption from the state law that would require a referendum for Hennepin County's proposed billion-dollar stadium tax. Hennepin County wants to establish a new sales tax that would raise $1.1 billion over 30 years, of which only a portion would fund a new Minnesota Twins baseball stadium in downtown Minneapolis.

"This referendum vote is a huge victory for taxpayers because the opinion of voters prevailed over the team owner’s special interest lobbyists," said Laura Lehmann of Citizens for a Stadium Tax Referendum, in a press release.

The Pioneer Press reported, "[Hennepin County Commissioner Mike Opat] and Jerry Bell, Twins owner Carl Pohlad's representative in negotiations with lawmakers, said Monday the county and the team would abandon their stadium plan rather than submit the issue to voters."

SD 43 Sen. Terri Bonoff (DFL-Plymouth) favors granting Hennepin County permission to levy the new tax without a referendum of its residents.

If the stadium tax is such a good idea, let us vote on it, as required by state law. As Judy Johnson, Republican challenger for Bonoff's Senate seat, said,
The Plymouth City Council, last year, passed a motion that Hennepin County should send this proposed tax increase to the voters as required by current law. The county commissioners, on a very narrow split vote, chose not to do so and want an exemption from state law to enact an increase in the sales tax on Hennepin County taxpayers. All cities pay sales tax on their purchases — enacted in the early 90s when the state hit deficits a decade ago. The state sales tax is, therefore, rolled into property taxes. Also, cities that propose a local option sales tax or an increase in their sales tax for local projects, like libraries, must go for voter approval as required by state law. I would hope common sense would prevail and not force a minority of taxpayers to be left without a voting voice — this is very bad tax policy.
Hennepin County sales tax increase = Property tax increase.

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