Rep. Paul Marquart, DFL-Dilworth, may not be a household name but he recently spoke about an issue that's making headlines all over Minnesota: the state's projected $6.2 billion deficit.
In debate on the House floor on a Republican-backed proposal to cut $1 billion in state spending, Marquart said this on Jan 27: "Make no doubt about it, this bill creates up to over $300 million of new property tax increases on our senior citizens on fixed incomes, our families, our farmers and our small businesses."
Marquart is on firm ground with his numbers, but local governments will make the final decision on property taxes.
Marquart voted against the Republican-controlled Legislature's first stab at reducing the state's deficit. The legislation would make permanent many of the one-time spending cuts Gov. Tim Pawlenty and the Legislature agreed on last year. Included in those cuts is a $487 million reduction in state aid to local governments and counties.
The Minnesota Department of Revenue estimates that these cuts will result in more than $300 million in new property taxes. To come up with this figure, budget crunchers use a formula that predicts property taxes will increase roughly 66 cents for every dollar the state cuts in aid. The assumption is based on historical data, and is reviewed annually by researchers at the revenue department and the Legislature.
So, Marquart's claim is plausible. But it's important to point out that the Legislature doesn't set property taxes; local governments do.
Further, the budgeting formula is based on an estimate. For example, it would be incorrect to assume that all local governments will increase property taxes. In fact, researchers at the revenue department and in the Legislature say the formula may be on the high end because many local governments have not raised property taxes as a result of the recession.
While it remains to be seen how much property taxes will increase, Marquart has a firm foundation for making his prediction.
His statement ranks an accurate on this PoliGraph test.
Minnesota State Legislature, text of H.F. 130, accessed Feb. 1, 2011
Minnesota State Legislature, Summary H.F. 130, accessed Feb. 1, 2011
Minnesota Department of Revenue, Analysis H.F. 130, Jan. 25, 2011
Minnesota Public Radio, Minn. House passes $1 billion state budget cut, by Tom Scheck, Jan. 28, 2011
Interview, Rep. Paul Marquart, DFL-Dilworth, Jan. 31, 2011
Interview, Pat Dalton, House Research Department, Feb. 1, 2011
Interview, Eric Willette, Property Tax Research Director, Minnesota Department of Revenue, Feb. 1, 2011