Thursday, August 23, 2007

Conservatives flex their muscle

Tom Scheck at Minnesota Public Radio's Polinaut, and more than a few Democrats I presume, are befuddled at Gov. Tim Pawlenty's signals over the weekend that a gas tax increase may not be such a sure thing after all. In an e-mail to supporters, the governor's political director, Michael Krueger said, "the Governor has made it clear to legislative leaders that he would like to see this gas tax increase as only temporary and offset by an income tax cut."

"So what changed," asks Scheck, "between Pawlenty's statement on August 7th ("The gas tax has never been popular but we have needs that have to be addressed") and today? Did he get too far from his base? Is he poll watching?"

That got me wondering about 100.3 KTLK-FM personality Jason Lewis's August 10 (note the timing) e-mail blast to his Tax Cut Coalition. Perhaps we caught a glimpse of what can happen when conservatives come together to flex their political muscle:
Dear TCC Member:

Just when you thought it was safe to go back to work again...

The aftermath of the I35W bridge collapse seems to only compound a very sad event. The idea that some politicians would use such a tragedy to advance their own agenda is more than unseemly. Unfortunately, raising taxes--and not re-prioritizing state spending--is gaining traction and too few in the political arena are opposing such a transparent notion.

The upcoming special session is now turning into a feeding frenzy with almost every conceivable spending proposal item on the agenda--that is, unless we stop it. A state biennial budget that has had two back-to-back increases of 12.4% and 9.6% respectively doesn't have a spending problem. A $34.5 billion general fund, which has doubled since 1995 and gone up 30% just since 2002 isn't short of taxpayer generosity. What happened to that surplus?

If we are truly committed to roads and bridges then our elected leaders need to revisit our state highway funding formula which short changes the most congested areas; they need to rethink diverting state and federal dollars to billion dollar light rail projects; and members of Congress need to stop the earmarks in transportation bills that have little to do with building and maintaining roads. Period.

Please tell your state Representative and Senator as well as the Governor that you will not support an increase in the gas tax (or any other tax) unless it is completely offset with a reduction in the state's income tax burden for those paying the way. [Emphasis mine. —M.A.] This would have the effect of spending less on non-essential items and devoting more resources to the real infrastructure the politicians say they care about.

It isn't a tax cut (they can't say we're not willing to compromise) but it is the only alternative acceptable to Minnesotans who make the economy go. (And a few letters to the editor might not be a bad idea either.)

Thank you in advance for your support.

Jason Lewis
Host, 4 - 7pm
FM Newstalk 100.3 KTLK

P.S. Don't forget to get your Tax Cut Coalition T-Shirt at the KTLK booth during the Minnesota State Fair.

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