This editorial was printed in Wednesday's Roches-ter Post-Bulletin.
Critics of Minnesota's tax system can find dozens of reasons why the state should solve its $4.2 billion budget shortfall without raising taxes.
They continue to harp on the fact that Minnesota's taxes have been higher than those of some neighboring states and warn that this might lead to a flight of businesses across the borders.
What they don't mention is that, for the most part, the cross-border traffic has been in the opposite direction -- favorable to Minnesota. They also fail to mention that in spite of what they regard as unreasonable taxes, Minne-sota still ranks in the top 10 states for per capita income -- in spite of a harsh climate and a location far from the main centers of U.S. population.
Minnesota, in fact, is the only Midwestern state in the top 10. In addition, the average per capita income for Minnesota in 2002 was $34,071 -- a 3.1 percent increase from $33,059 in 2001. The 2002 figure exceeded the national per capita income of $30,941, which grew only 1.7 percent last year. Thus the per capita income figure for Minnesota was $3,130 or 10.1 percent higher than the national figure.
Our Midwestern neighboring states, some of which have lower taxes, ranked as follows: Wisconsin, No. 21, $29,923; Iowa, No. 31, $28,280; North Dakota, No. 36, $26,982; and South Dakota, No. 37, $26,894.
... All of which might lead to the conclusion that it might be unwise to use a state's level of taxation as the only gauge of its economic health.
We believe that should remain the guiding principle in the future. Gov. Tim Pawlenty's insistence on solving the budget problem without raising taxes is misguided. It will eviscerate many worthwhile public services, cause suffering for vulnerable children and adults, and ultimately knock Minnesota out of the top 10 states for per capita income.
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