Is Minnesota introducing taxation without representation?

James Otis said “taxation with representation is tyranny”, but ‘no taxation without representation’ – as it is commonly remembered – is snappier.

This is one of the founding principles of the United States; if people are going to take your property off you with the threat of force lurking in the background, which is what government does when it taxes, you ought to have some say over who those people are. Seems fair enough, doesn’t it?

Perhaps not, according to some in Minnesota. As economist John Spry points out in the Pioneer Press,

Minnesota Democrats have a plan to create a statewide single-payer health plan funded with state taxes, without lawmakers voting for tax hikes. Minnesota Democrats’ legislation would give an appointed Minnesota Health Board the unlimited power to tax. This unelected board would run the entire health care system in Minnesota with both tax and spending authority. This unelected board would enact the massive tax hikes that Democratic legislators are unwilling to support publicly.

What does Minnesota’s Constitution say about state taxation?

Article III, Section 18 of the Minnesota Constitution says

All bills for raising revenue shall originate in the house of representatives, but the senate may propose and concur with the amendments as on other bills.

Article X, Section 1 says

The power of taxation shall never be surrendered, suspended or contracted away. 

What is the Minnesota Health Plan?

Yet, as Spry points out, HF 358

…says that regional health boards would select eight members of the new Minnesota Health Board. The first eight members selected by regional health boards would then appoint seven additional members who would have to be members of specified health care interest groups.

These 15 appointees would never be accountable to the voters at a ballot box. 

We can look at the Minnesota Health Plan’s own website to find out ‘How is the MHP paid for?’

The Legislature and Governor would have no authority over the MHP revenues. This is necessary in order to prevent the use of MHP premiums to balance the state budget, and would also prevent politicians from starving the health plan of needed funds, a problem that occurs in some of the countries where politicians are responsible for funding their national health plans. [Emphasis added]

In short, eight people would be appointed by regional health boards. These eight would then appoint another seven people. Together, these fifteen people would have the power to take your property off you with the threat of force lurking in the background. And there wouldn’t be much you could do about it, democratically. How American is that?

John Phelan is an economist at the Center of the American Experiment.