Thursday, October 12, 2006

Bonoff vote enabled Hennepin County tax increase

On the CCARL Yahoo! Group, Ray Rossberg of Eden Prairie posted this cogent argument for why Sen. Terri Bonoff (DFL-Minnetonka) was wrong to deny the residents of Hennepin County the right to vote on their own tax increase. Excerpts:
While some may have little sympathy for our misfortune of having to pay the $1+ billion bill for this and dismiss it as being someone else's problem or even feel they got something for nothing, it's important to keep in mind that the referendum requirement your representative subverted protects all of us, regardless of where we live.

The referendum provision was included in the statute to ensure that new local sales taxes have public support since it would affect stores, restaurants, and other businesses by putting them at a competitive disadvantage to those in surrounding areas.

It makes the approval process the same as that required for bonding items such as schools, swimming pools, skating rinks, parks, etc. so that governments would not abuse taxpayers by shifting expenses to this funding mechanism without public consent.

The legislature has always required counties and municipalities to have sales tax referendums for their requests. Since a sports franchise was involved in this situation, these common-sense protections became inconvenient so it was decided that the residents must not be allowed to participate in any way except to pay for the stadium and related expenses.

The House Tax Committee debunked the myth that visitors to the area will pay for this by showing that 92% of the tax will actually be paid by the county's residents. Other than some nearby bar and restaurant owners, few people other than the Twins owner will benefit from this.

Traditionally, state legislators don't pass or introduce measures for specific counties and districts unless the legislators from the affected areas support them since they would have a better understanding of the implications for their constituents. There is also nothing more repugnant for people than to have outsiders make their choices for them.
Bonoff has always been candid about her vision that Major League Baseball is essential for a vibrant metropolitan area like the Twin Cities, and therefore would be worthy of public subsidy. She makes no apologies for bypassing the taxpayers, even though state senators representing districts within Hennepin County voted 11-5 in opposition to the bill (HF 2480) that exempts Hennepin County from the taxpayer protection statute.

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