For the editor:
When thinking about tax policy, it is extremely important to think about the fairest source of revenue based on people’s ability to pay.
I found quite the contrast on the front page of the Independent’s Tuesday, October 25 on the Governor’s headlines, Scott Jensen’s thoughts on phasing out the state income tax and the questions and answers about the Marshall School’s referendum interview with Superintendent Jeremy Williams. I noted in the interview that the primary source of funding for schools comes from the state, and the primary source of funding is our income tax.
Most schools like Marshall and my hometown of Wabasso need additional resources to operate and that comes from property taxes through what is called an operational referendum. Referendum operating revenue is a mix of local property taxes and state-paid revenue. The lower the property value per student in a district, the more state money comes from the state to the school district. Agricultural land is exempt from the school operating tax. This reduces farm property taxes by increasing the amount of state money.
Reducing the income tax stream is going to have a real negative effect on the already underfunded education funding in Minnesota. More alarming is reduced tax revenue, the state is less able to help pay operating referendum money to the school district, and taxes on farms and farmland will skyrocket.
Jensen’s proposal seems risky to join 20% of states that have no income tax.
Income tax is progressive, meaning each person is taxed according to their ability to pay. They are fairer than property taxes and sales taxes. At a time when we need to catch up in education, we should not experiment with risky sources of income.
It’s important that we all vote this fall, but also take the time to critically assess who provides the most stability and thoughtful leadership as governor for the next four years. I will support Tim Walz because of his leadership record as a former congressman and as a governor.