Anti-tax group says lawmakers broke pledgeby Tom Scheck, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — A leading anti-tax group in Minnesota is criticizing some of the most conservative members of the Legislature for breaking a pledge not to raise taxes.
The Taxpayers League of Minnesota called on its members to contact seven Republican lawmakers for violating their anti-tax pledge. The group includes former Taxpayers League President Linda Runbeck and Sen. Mike Parry, R-Waseca, who is running for Congress in Minnesota's 1st District.
The lawmakers sponsored legislation that would allow the state's horse tracks to install slot machines, said Taxpayers League President Phil Krinkie. He said the state would take a share of the money raised from the machines, which he argues is a tax hike. Krinkie said he is surprised that lawmakers who called for holding the line on spending are now backing an expansion of gambling in Minnesota.
"There was a call from some of these very same people of 'Not a penny more.' So how do you go with the math in a few months from 'Not a penny more' to a couple a hundred million more?"
Parry said he is surprised anyone would consider what's known as "racino" legislation a tax hike. He called gambling as a "voluntary activity."
"Gambling is a game of choice. You don't have to gamble if you don't want to. We have gambling in the state of Minnesota," Parry said. "This is not feeding the beast."
The head of the Taxpayers League said the state's tribes, which own and operate casinos in Minnesota, have given money to his organization, but dismissed that it had anything to do with his group's stance on the issue. He said the league is concerned about any effort to increase spending in the state.