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Letter: Unwinding property tax political spin

I would like to respond to the propaganda written recently by State Representative Paul Marquart. Not only did he unnecessarily bash your local lawmaker, State Representative Jeff Backer, but he also managed to disgustingly distort the truth in hopes of scoring political points.

In his attempt to rewrite history and gloss over his past legislative sins, Marquart claims Local Government Aid is not a Minnesota House priority. The fact is, House Republicans like Rep. Backer want more of that money sent to communities that truly need it – Greater Minnesota communities.

Last session, we proposed that Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Duluth receive an LGA reduction – not rural Minnesota cities. These are three major cities that, due to high populations, have the needed tax base to support themselves.

Rep. Backer understands that LGA should be reserved for towns in Greater Minnesota who need the funds for critical services – not for major metropolitan cities that want to spend their money on nice-to-haves like street cars and light rail.

Along with prioritizing Greater Minnesota’s LGA, Rep. Backer also voted to use a portion of the state surplus to offset one-half of the school construction levy property tax for all Minnesota farmland; enact the Property Taxpayers’ Empowerment Act, a measure that empowers voters with the ability to rescind overwhelming property tax increases that out of touch officials incur through runaway spending; and cut the state general tax, which is a state property tax that all local businesses pay in addition to their local property taxes.

Marquart believes the best way to help property taxpayers is to spend more of your money on LGA – especially in the Twin Cities. About that $88 million LGA increase he and an all Democratic-led legislature approved in 2013-14? The Democrats gave Minneapolis and St. Paul disproportionately more than they did rural Minnesota communities – and property taxes still jumped in both metro and rural areas!

In the metro area the average property tax increase was 2.1 percent while in rural Minnesota it was a staggering 4.2 percent. Thanks to lawmakers like Marquart, you spent more so the Twin Cities could get a bigger piece of the LGA pie, and you paid higher property taxes to boot.

Finally, let’s analyze the initial 2015 property tax numbers. Remember, this projection represents preliminary increases from cities, counties, school districts and townships. The local jurisdictions can, and many will, reduce their spending plans between now and the final certified levy decision date in late December.

Last year’s preliminary levy increase amount – a direct reflection of Marquart’s handiwork – was more than $321 million statewide and was eventually lowered when the certified levies were decided upon by local governments to be 2.9 percent statewide.

Folks, be glad Rep. Backer is on your side and working hard for rural Minnesota’s property taxpayers, and try to ignore the political rhetoric being pushed by Democrats who continually prioritize the Minneapolis property tax agenda. The truth simply is not on their side.