Weather Forecast


Sen. Torrey Westrom: Disaster relief for Minnesota, but no tax relief

A special session is scheduled for Monday, Sept. 9 to address disaster relief for up to 18 counties impacted by severe storms, high winds, and flooding that occurred across the state between June 20 and 26. Preliminary damage estimates compiled by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Homeland Security and Emergency Management division (HSEM) showed that the eligible amounts totaled $17,880,840.

Eighteen counties had damages that exceeded the $3.45 per capita county indicated that would trigger a disaster declaration and were included in the federal disaster declaration signed by President Barack Obama. Eight of those counties that were listed are in the district I represent.

In addition to supporting legislation for disaster relief, I am also supporting legislation for tax relief. Last session, the DFL pushed taxes on the hardworking families and farmers of Minnesota. These taxes were wrong and ought to be repealed. Government waste should be trimmed rather than raising taxes and allowing government spending to be excessively increased. Like families and small businesses, government needs to “live within their means” too!

I have introduced three bills for this special session to repeal the new sales taxes imposed last session on heavy equipment which includes farm machinery and livestock equipment, on electronic equipment which adds a sales tax on broadband and cellular services, and on warehouses.

In a recent editorial letter, a constituent summed it up well when he wrote about his displeasure on this new heavy equipment sales tax stating that “instead of putting money into area hardware stores, church offering plates, school fundraisers, lumber yards, restaurants or car and truck dealers, farmers have to send more money instead to St. Paul for Legislators to dream up more ways to waste it.”

Even former DFL Speaker of the House Margaret Anderson Kelliher has concerns over these new taxes. Her main concern is regarding the sales taxes that were added on broadband and cellular services. There “will be slower adoption of high-speed Internet in outstate Minnesota,” stated Kelliher and that this new tax is a “step backward.”

I will continue to fight for hardworking taxpayers to fix the mistakes Democrats made last session. Government should be more efficient, not more expensive and wasteful.