The following is Rep. Jeremy Kalin’s (DFL-17B) column in the May 3, 2007 issue of the Chisago County Press. It is available here, but it is reproduced below in case it is no longer available on his web site.
This is rather long, but it needs to be read and understood by Republicans and Democrats. The bill was eventually vetoed by Governor Pawlenty, but we need to understand Kalin’s thinking.
PROPERTY TAX RELIEF FOR CHISAGO COUNTY
Last week, the House passed the cornerstone of our finance reform bills – the House Property Tax Relief bill. I thought long and hard about the bill, and researched the impacts and benefits for Chisago County. In the end, I decided to vote for the significant property tax reductions in the bill.
I promised in the campaign to put people before politics. As you may have read, our property tax cuts are financed by a 4th tier income tax at $431,000 for married couples filing jointly. Although the bill is revenue neutral – the tax cuts are equal to the increase in other areas – it's the top tier income tax that's gotten the most attention. As a result, the political consultants in St. Paul all advised me to do the easy political thing, and vote no.
But I was elected to vote my conscience – not to follow the easy political path. I looked carefully at the numbers provided by the independent and non-partisan House Research staff, and I listened intently to the debate on the House floor.
Throughout my deliberation, I kept returning to this simple fact: only 61 households in Chisago County would be affected by the top tier income tax rate – and nearly every homeowner and Main Street business owner in Chisago County will see real property tax cuts from the Property Tax Relief bill.
On the campaign trail, I heard from almost every single person – reduce my property taxes. Democrats, Republicans and everywhere in between – we're all hungry for property tax relief.
I decided I would vote for real property tax reform at every opportunity. While I'm working closely with Governor Pawlenty on conservation issues, I voted against his tax bill that included $492 Million in more property tax hikes. Our property taxes would go up another 10% for homestead residential property, and at least 4% for commercial business property, under the Governor's plan.
Instead, I voted for the House Property Tax Relief bill. The bill would bring a total of $606,921 in more Local Government Aid to Center City, Chisago City, Harris, Lindstrom, North Branch, Rush City, Shafer, Stacy and Taylors Falls. It also would bring $209,929 more to Chisago County's budget to limit property tax hikes at the county level. Add to this the Taylors Falls Border City Development Zone funding I authored, and the $3,059,802 in school levy reduction aid I voted for in the Education bill, and that's a total of nearly $4 Million in direct property tax help for Chisago County.
The Property Tax Relief bill also includes a new Homestead Credit State Refund to ensure even more targeted property tax reductions, based on the ability to pay. There's a total of $223 Million statewide for this new credit.
I am sure that some will try to sling political mud and paint my vote as a tax hike – which it's not. It's a true reform package, one that recognizes that the state budget cuts of 2003 and 2005 shifted state taxes onto the backs of seniors, farmers, families and Main Street businesses through higher property taxes. The 2007 Property Tax Relief bill restores fairness to the whole tax system, and provides real cuts on our property tax statements.
Notice the name of this bill is the Property Tax Relief bill which he said contained "significant property tax reductions." But now we get to the nitty-gritty of it: "property tax cuts are financed by a 4th tier income tax."
So it’s not tax relief after all; it’s tax intensification. In putting "people before politics," Kalin thinks it is fair to tax some to give tax relief to others and not call it a tax bill and a tax hike. Dems just cannot be straight forward in the use of language, always obfuscating what they don’t want you to know.
Summing it up, Kalin contends, "I am sure that some will try to sling political mud and paint my vote as a tax hike – which it's not. It's a true reform package...[that] provides real cuts on our property tax statements."
Wow! He can’t even recognize that he voted for a tax hike! In putting people before politics, he forgot about those 61 households in Chisago County who would have had to pick up the tab for the rest of us if this bill had not been vetoed. His politics has already gotten in the way of people.