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Sunday, May 20, 2007

I'll Be Voting No to this One

Tax increase for Outdoors/Arts headed to voters. Strib.

In an early morning vote as the Legislature began winding down toward its Monday adjournment deadline, the House voted 86 to 46 at 2:23 a.m. Sunday after nearly 4 1/2 hours of debate to approve the constitutional amendment. Almost a decade in the making, the measure would, if voters approve, raise the state's sales tax 3/8ths of one percent for 25 years. It is expected to generate about $291 million a year.

The House bill calls for divvying up the funds with 25 percent for fish and wildlife habitat, 25 percent to protect and restore waters, 15 percent for parks and trails, 10 percent for the arts and cultural heritage, and 10 percent to be used to fund the programs as the Legislature deems necessary.

These decisions should be made by the legislators, not by constitutional amendment.

This is rather presumptuous:

Debate on the measure was spirited and at times heated, and focused on whether it was wise to raise taxes or to dedicate funding through the state constitution rather than by statute. Opponents also suggested that the arts, a late-comer to the game, should not be included in a bill that outdoor groups have worked almost 10 years to get approved. Some compared the arts groups to the guy on the fishing trip who doesn't fill the bait box or clean the boat but is always there to eat the shore lunch.

"This has not been about adding on to the sales tax. This has always been about taking a little tiny sliver of the millions of dollars for those of us who enjoy the outdoors and putting it back into what we are enjoying now so that our kids and grand kids can enjoy it later on," said Rep. Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove.

This is all about raising the sales tax to pay for these programs. There's good reasons to fund these programs, but be honest, this is a tax increase. In my opinion, these programs should be funded through the regular legislative process.

Will the Taxpayer's League call out legislators who made the pledge not to vote for tax increases on this one?