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Sen. Torrey Westrom: Hardworking taxpayers deserve better than tax bill

ST. PAUL -- Monday, April 29th the Minnesota State Senate passed a tax increase bill (Senate File 552/House File 677) that contains a variety of new tax provisions and annually raises $1.84 billion in new taxes to close a $627 million state budget deficit.

In a surprising twist, the tax bill failed in its first vote of 32-34 by the entire Senate, and a recess was quickly called by the DFL Majority leader. The bill was reconsidered an hour later and two DFL Senators switched their vote to approve the bill. The final vote was 35 in support and 31 in opposition.

The bill increases sales taxes by expanding the sales tax base to include new items like clothing; over the counter medications; haircuts; digital downloads; auto repair services; and sports memorabilia like baseball cards, hats, and jerseys.

In addition, this tax increase raises $1.2 billion on the middle and upper tax bracket individuals making over $79,730 and married joint filers making over $140,960. For these individuals, rates will increase by 20 percent from 7.85 percent to 9.4 percent. Also, this tax bill supports increasing state government spending by 8 percent - when our economy is only growing by 2.5 percent. This is irresponsible and hardworking taxpayers deserve better.

We need to spend better, not ask hardworking taxpayers to pay more. Before we take another dollar in taxes from all Minnesotans, we should be going line-by-line through our state budget and find areas to reform wasteful government spending first.

I encourage and appreciate citizen input. You can reach me by telephone at (651) 296-3826 or (855) 407-7386, by e-mail at, or via mail at 107 State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55155.