Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton had been driving down a precarious slope ever since he announced he wanted to tax everything he could get his hands on in order to raise revenue. Then, just like that, he slammed on the brakes Friday and announced he would give his tax-heavy budget proposal a major facelift and drop some key tax pieces of his bill, including his ill-conceived business services tax proposal, which was on par with a lead balloon.
Dayton's proposal left most, if not all, Republicans - and even some Democrats - in the House and Senate scratching their heads, and it rankled just about every business owner in the state.
People complained. Dayton listened. And he should be applauded for that and for taking his proposals off the table.
Once again, Dayton has shown the ability to not just hear what people are saying, but to really listen. And we can only assume it will lead to compromise, similar to the compromising he did to end the 2011 government shutdown that lasted for 20 days and resulted in millions in lost revenue, and frustration and resentment from both Minnesota residents and politicians alike.
Back then, the alternative to Dayton's desire to tax the state's richest residents, unfortunately, was delaying aid to schools and borrowing against future payments from a legal settlement with tobacco companies. What's the alternative going to be this session? So-called "sin taxes" on cigarettes and alcohol have been teased, but these are regressive taxes, and while it might do some good, we would rather see Dayton's tax-the-rich plan move forward.
This is a fairness and equality issue and one that should be pursued. That means it's the Republicans' turn to give a little and not hold things up at the Capitol. In the spirit of compromise, we would think the GOP would be willing to give on that, just as Dayton did in 2011. While Republicans say taxing the rich will throw up barriers to businesses in Minnesota and might force them out-of-state, we argue that Dayton's move to drop his business services tax idea will do just as much to keep them here.
With Democrats in charge in both the House and Senate for at least the remainder of Dayton's term, the governor knows he should have an easier time getting his wishes fulfilled than he has in the past, all the more reason to appreciate his backing off on his tax proposal. At the least, it's a step in the right direction.