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Minnesota Democrats face property tax campaign issue

ST. PAUL - Democrats for years blamed Republicans for forcing local governments to raise property taxes. But now that Democratic-Farmer-Laborites control the Minnesota Legislature and the governor's office, it appears that property taxes will con...

ST. PAUL - Democrats for years blamed Republicans for forcing local governments to raise property taxes.

But now that Democratic-Farmer-Laborites control the Minnesota Legislature and the governor's office, it appears that property taxes will continue their increase, if only slightly, in the next year.

Republican state Chairman Keith Downey said that after Democratic promises of lower taxes, Republicans will not be shy about mentioning the tax increase in campaigns.

"There obviously is a political liability," said Larry Jacobs from the University of Minnesota's Humphrey School of Public Affairs.

Preliminary figures show a nearly 2 percent overall statewide property tax levy increase is possible, although decisions local governments make by mid-December could shrink that number.

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Individual taxpayers may see lower property tax bills, depending on factors ranging from local government levies to whether property is increasing in value.

"Any tax increase in inherently unpopular," Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton said in a Forum News Service interview. "But it will be a message battle. Republicans will try to say 'largest tax increase in history,' and we will say 'the people who have the most are paying it, and smokers.' "

Overall, much of the $2.1 billion, two-year tax increase comes from the state's highest earners and smokers.

Dayton made the point that if property taxes rise 2 percent statewide, that would far less than the 83 percent they have gone up in the past decade.

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