Letter: Minnesota can’t afford Gov. Walz’s tax-and-spend budget

In his column published March 18, Gov. Tim Walz laid out all the wonderful programs that Minnesotans can expect from his budget. In his mind, he’s following through on campaign pledges. But the problem with campaign promises is that you have to pay for them. And when you add it all up, we can’t afford what Walz is selling.

Here’s the reality: the Walz budget would increase state spending by nearly 10 percent, with even bigger increases on tap in the future as new programs are fully phased in. No economic measure – GDP, personal or family income, CPI, or state population – is growing at a rate that could justify that level of spending.

To pay for it all, he proposes new mandates, taxes and fees that would increase the cost of gas, vehicle registrations, electricity, health care and prescription drugs, and add new payroll and sales taxes. Most of these would fall hardest on those Minnesota families already struggling to make ends meet.

Walz would increase gas taxes by 20 cents per gallon — a whopping 70 percent increase – at the same time Washington is also pondering a federal gas tax increase. But while with one hand he would spend this new money on transportation, with the other he would shift general fund dollars now dedicated to transportation and infrastructure to other programs. It’s a shell game.

As riled up as folks are over paying more at the pump, the governor’s health care proposal is even worse. Health care affordability and access remain top concerns among Minnesota families and businesses. For years, the state legislature has worked to address this problem. Former Gov. Mark Dayton and a Republican legislature agreed to repeal the health care provider tax in 2011, removing unnecessary government-imposed costs from the system.

By reinstating the provider tax, Walz would undo this bipartisan work – and raise $1 billion in new taxes on the backs of patients already struggling to afford the care they need. His proposal ignores a simple truth — you can’t make health care more affordable by making health care cost more.

Every corner of our state is filled with innovative industries, a strong workforce, top-notch institutions and natural resources. We should be an economic powerhouse, yet, we lag behind much of the nation in many economic indicators. For too long, Minnesota’s economic potential has been weighed down by over-taxation and irresponsible management of our ever-growing state budget. It’s time to reverse these trends.

Raising taxes is easy for politicians, because it’s always somebody else paying the bill. Instead of blindly throwing money at the challenges we face, let’s look at ways to reform our approach for the long term by setting priorities and reining in spending, addressing waste and fraud rampant within state programs, and seeking out innovative ways to address the state’s challenges.

Walz’s tax-increase-funded wish list is the wrong approach to increasing opportunity for Minnesota families and job creators and will only make Minnesota a less competitive, less prosperous and less desirable place to live and work.