South Dakota faces a projected budget deficit of $74.8 million, about 6% of our projected FY2010 general fund expenditures. But asking South Dakotans to pay, say, a half-penny sales tax increase to cover our expenses is deemed "the nuclear option."
How does paying for the services we need become more unthinkable that cutting state aid to K-12 education 5%?
Maybe we could osmose some political courage by spending more time at the Mall of America. That thriving commercial establishment is in Minnesota, which faces deficits of $3 billion this year and next. That's 16% of Minnesota's state budget. How do they propose to close that fiscal gap?
Wealthy businessman Mark Dayton campaigned for governor on a platform of taxing himself and his rich compatriots more. He advocates creating a new income tax bracket for individuals making more than $130K and couples making $150K (yeah, that's rich around here). He advocates a new property tax bracket for homes worth over $1 million. He'd also tax predatory credit card companies.
Dayton would also make a whole whack of spending cuts, but he puts the tax increases at the top of the page, and additional revenue outpaces savings four to one, acknowledging, perhaps, that it's better to pay the piper for services citizens need than cut government services and inefficiently shift costs to local governments and individuals.
The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce finds such proposals abominable, but Dayton campaigned openly on these tax increases and won the governor's chair. Not by much, but he won.
Are Minnesota and South Dakota really that different? We were both settled by the same hardy, taciturn German and Scandinavian stock. We both deal with harsh winters and the disappointment of the Minnesota Vikings (or out in the Hills, the Broncos). How can we be so different in politics?
Governor-Elect Mark Dayton shows us that a prairie state doesn't have to fight deficits with one fiscal hand tied behind its back. Governor-Elect Dennis Daugaard should pay attention.
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