MARSHALL - Minnesota tax laws were the subject of a discussion Monday afternoon in Marshall.
State Representatives Gregory Davids, R-Preston, and Chris Swedzinski, R-Ghent, visited with area residents during a listening session at the Landmark Bistro.
An audience including county commissioners from Lyon, Lincoln and Redwood counties, as well as area residents and city staff from Marshall and Ghent, attended the listening session.
Photo by Deb Gau
State Rep. Chris Swedzinski, R-Ghent, left, speaks to the audience at a forum on taxes Monday in Marshall. To his left is Minnesota House Taxes Committee Chairman Greg Davids, R-Preston.
Davids started Monday's talk with a discussion of the legislative session, and some of the difficulties faced in getting a tax bill passed. Davids is the Minnesota House Taxes Committee chairman.
Overall, Davids said, Minnesota was doing well in going from deficit of more than $6 billion to a surplus.
"We have been able to get the ship of state moving in the right direction," Davids said.
However, there were challenges in accomplishing that task, including conflicts with Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton. Dayton vetoed a tax bill containing measures like property tax relief for businesses that Davids said would have gone a long way to promote job growth in Minnesota.
Meanwhile, Davids said, Dayton's tax proposals would not have given the state adequate revenue to cover proposed budget costs. Using jars of pennies as visual aids, Davids said $2 billion in revenue from creating a fourth tax bracket didn't go very far in paying back funds to Minnesota schools and funding the Market Value Homestead Credit, in addition to other state spending.
In the listening session, Marshall City Administrator Ben Martig said revenue sources would continue to be a problem facing Minnesota cities.
"In the long term, I don't think we want to rely on property taxes," Martig said.
Martig suggested that cities be allowed to diversify revenues, perhaps by setting municipal sales taxes. Martig said the state should also stop collecting property taxes on businesses, which are already paying city and county property taxes.
Redwood County Commissioner Lon Walling also said he thought revenue streams were something the state needed to look at.
Other concerns from the audience included the effect of property tax changes on residential, commercial and agricultural properties.
Davids and Swedzinski said it would be crucial for state lawmakers to remain strong in supporting rural Minnesotan interests.
When it comes to tax and budgetary decisions, they said votes often fall along geographic lines, rather than partisan ones.
"We're going to have to, as rural members, make a stand," Swedzinski said.