As legislature convenes, new DFL taxes are on the horizon

Last year, Minnesota’s legislature blew through an $18 billion budget surplus and hiked taxes and fees by another $10 billion for good measure. You might think that would sate the appetite of Minnesota’s politicians for your money. But as the 19th century lawyer, newspaper editor, and politician Gideon J. Tucker famously said “No man’s life, liberty, or property are safe while the legislature is in session.”

Last week, in a story titled “DFL lawmakers to propose statewide sales tax hike to fund housing,” the Minnesota Reformer reported:

Some Democratic-Farmer-Labor lawmakers will propose a constitutional amendment that would raise the state sales tax to fund housing programs.

Bill draft language would raise the state sales tax by three-eights of 1% — about 37 cents for every $100 spent — to create three funds geared towards supporting homebuyers, renters and people facing homelessness and housing insecurity. Each fund would be administered by a 24-member council appointed by a panel of legislators. 

If lawmakers approve the proposed constitutional amendment, voters would make the decision via statewide ballot in November.

It is true that Minnesota, and the Twin Cities especially, have relatively expensive housing. That is because, by imposing excessive taxes, fees, and regulations, state and local government effectively makes affordable housing impossible to build. The solution is to lighten the burden of these taxes, fees, and regulations.

But the DFL never sees any problem that cannot be solved by throwing ever increasing amounts of your money at it:

Last session, the Legislature approved historic levels of funding for housing, but much of it was a one-time allocation for the 2024-25 biennium. Housing advocates want to see ongoing funding…

We are told that “some DFL lawmakers have signaled they’ll be taking a more cautious approach to spending in the 2024 legislative session:”

Sen. Ann Rest, DFL-New Hope, chair of the Senate taxes committee, said last week she would not support any new taxes, Axios reported. With a one-seat majority in the Senate, DFL advocates of the proposed constitutional amendment would likely need Rest’s support. 

With the greatest of respect to Sen. Rest, the DFL is noted for its discipline in the legislature, i.e., everyone doing what they’re told. One recalls Sen. Judy Seeburger’s (DFL) plea last session for bills that were more “moderate” — in the event, she voted for every single immoderate bill that was put in front of her. Deeds, not words, are what matter. Gideon J. Tucker’s warning remains as timely as ever.