By Rep. Ron Kresha, Guest Columnist
August — where does the summer go? I hope you have been able to spend some time with family attending community events. My own family has been blessed to spend time together and recently my son and I traveled to Guatemala to work with poverty-stricken families. The mission trip reminded me once again of the value of education and family.
The non-partisan Minnesota Management and Budget Office released a report recently showing that the all-funds budget from this session will be a truly historic $67 billion, fueled by a 10 percent increase in spending — more than $6 billion in total. Unfortunately, new taxes and laws passed this session mean more money out of your pocket — everyone will pay more for a record-setting spending increase.
These historic spending hikes were paid for by more than $2 billion in new taxes and hundreds of millions in fees. Farmers and those of us in Greater Minnesota are going to be the hardest hit by the tax-and-spend free-for-all that went on in St. Paul.
Many of the new taxes will make it more expensive for farmers to do business. A new maintenance and repair tax that began July 1 means it now costs more to get your combine, tractor or other piece of equipment fixed.
The warehousing tax may exempt certain products like soybeans and corn, but farmers will still have to pay more for fertilizer, fuel and storage of any equipment that passes through a warehouse.
And it doesn’t stop there — non-partisan House research projects that agriculture properties will see a 6.5 percent increase in their property taxes.
The agriculture industry accounts for about one in five jobs here in Minnesota. Agriculture is the backbone of our state, and one of the main drivers of our economy. Farmers are the ones that put food on our table and help produce fuel for our vehicles; raising their costs just doesn’t make sense to me.
When you increase costs for farmers, you increase the cost of a gallon of milk, a loaf of bread or the price of ethanol fuel. That’s a hidden tax that families have been forced to pay as food and gas prices surged during the recession.
While these taxes should have never been proposed in the first place, I’m encouraged that Gov. Dayton and some Democrats are already discussing the potential repeal of these harmful taxes next session. I hope that’s something we can come together to do next session.
Rep. Ron Kresha, R-Little Falls, represents House District 9B.