We in Minnesota are facing a huge $4 billion budget shortfall, which our Republican governor has sworn to fix without causing pain to his suburban, midlife, Christian-Caucasian supporters.
The DFL, our version of the Democratic party, threw in the towel this week. There will be no way to balance the pain of these cuts on all the classes of people in the state. The axe will fall almost entirely on the poor, the elderly, the rural, and the unwhite.
It's all due to a Bushian group called the Minnesota Taxpayers League, who extracted a no-taxes pledge from the Governor during the campaign, and have kept him on a tight leash since then. For some reason, this group of vigilantes can dictate state policy, despite the fact that the electorate cast more votes for candidates advocating budget flexibility (possibly involving a tax increase) than for the unopposed Tim Pawlenty, who knelt before the Taxpayers League.
What astonishes me are the vituperative letters to the editor from Minnesotans, who seem outraged that Minnesota's high tax profile has consistently placed Minnesota among the top handful of states to live in, for job, for education, for quality of life.
The reason is that the people of the suburbs ? whose taxes might have gone up under another governor ? figure they'll have a good quality of life even if the state goes to hell, even if the cities die.
Which is what will happen. Consider that the federal government, in its effort to kill off government growth for the next 10 years, has created a nationwide deficit, causing every state to slash its budget as well.
At the end of this chain are localities ? cities, counties, and townships, which formerly got by with Local Aid to Government block grants ? mainly to offset property taxes.
Those funds are gone forever, under the Taxpayers League plan to make Minnesota more like South Dakota.
Cities are also strapped, and in Minnesota they have announced a change in appraisal, from the old system which undervalued properties, to a new system which will be closer to market value.
Thus, a house (mercifully) undervalued at $100,000 under the old system will now be taxed at the likely new value of $250,000. Thus a tax burden of $1,000 per year may skyrocket to $2,500.
And that's just due to a change in appraisal method — before actual property tax increases occur. The increase could tack on an additional $1,000.