My column for the Washington County Daily News is online and in print. Here’s a part:
The governor is also proposing a multipronged plan designed to jack up taxes and fuel the growth of local governments. Step one is to dramatically increase the money that the state gives to local governments by funneling 20% of all state sales tax collections to them through the shared revenue program. In the first year, this would total about $576 million and then fluctuate with sales tax collections thereafter. What will happen to those state government programs currently funded by that sales tax? Presumably, that gap will have to be filled with other state taxes.
Step two is a provision that mandates that no local government will ever receive less than 95% of the prior year’s allocation under the new shared revenue plan. The sales tax is a consumption tax that fluctuates with consumer spending. Under Evers’ proposal, however, governments would be protected if there is a downturn. How will that funding be made up if sales tax collections drop? With other state taxes, of course.
The final step is that the governor would allow all counties and any municipality with a population over 30,000 to impose their own sales tax on top of the state sales tax. Taken together, the governor’s proposals would fuel the growth of local governments with state taxpayer largesse, and then allow local government to increase taxes and spending even further with their own sales taxes. If there is anything that we have learned in Washington County, it is that a government will always find a way to spend sales taxes and then complain that they are broke.