The Minneapolis Star Tribune is still one of my MANY morning news reads. The headline in today's politics newsletter (Morning Dish) reminded me that the more life changes, the more some things - like the editorial cluelessnss of the Strib editorial board - stay comfortably the same.
North Dakota voters are voting today on an amendment to kill local property taxes. The measure is expected to fail as there is little bi-partisan institutional support of the measure. That doesn't stop the Star Trib editorial board from engaging in a little day dream.
Banning property taxes would cost North Dakota $812 million in annual revenue -- money used to fund schools and local government, said Cory Fong, North Dakota's tax commissioner. Should voters abolish property taxes, that revenue would likely be replaced by raising North Dakota's sales taxes, Fong said Monday.
Never mind that the reason why this measure is on the ballot is because of the revenue boom that North Dakota is currently experiencing thanks to an oil boom. Money government gets today should ALWAYS remain the same....unless it goes. That is the motto of the average government bureaucrat.
"That creates a competitive advantage to Minnesota," said Brad Schlossman, CEO of West Acres Development, in Fargo, N.D. "If sales taxes go up in North Dakota and you live near the Minnesota border, where would you rather shop?"
Let's take that logic and turn it around. You're a small business owner in Minnsota - or you WANT to be a small business owner in Minnesota but you see what the annual fees are for you to go into business....plus property taxes, plus business and personal income taxes plus...plus....plus.... You look over the boarder it Iowa, North Dakota or Wisconsin and you see your cost of doing business would drop in half if you move 5-10 miles to the other side of the border. Does that EVER cross the minds of the collective intellects on Portland Avenue? Of course not! Why would anyone want to leave Minnesota? After all, thanks to the Happy To Pay For A Better Minnesota, we have new stadiums for our pro sports teams (so we aren't a frozen Omaha) - never mind trying to drive there in the gridlock that is caused by poor roads planning. We have one of the most progressive tax systems in the country....unless you make less than $30,000 a year and you smoke - then you pay one of the most regressive taxes (cigarette tax) in order to pay for your kids health care.
This is the thing that just stuns me about the Strib Editorial board. They do not comprehend the fact that people will move to where the jobs are. If unemployment in state A is 6% and the over all tax burden is 10% of your unemployment check and unemployment in state B is 4% and the overall tax burden is 6% - people are going to move if they have the means - and sometimes even if they don't have the means. Just take a look at New York State or California. New York has lost 1.6 million residents. California's vaunted population growth has slowed as outward migration has caught up to the birth rate. States with high taxes, high levels of government services and high unemployment are losing population to states like North Dakota, Texas and Utah - states with lower levels of taxes, government services and unemployment. This is a trend that has been in the making for decades and (most importantly) is right in line with human nature. If a human works, it is because it benefits that individual - not because it benefits the state. Benefits to the state are ALWAYS a side thought in that equation.
But human nature has never been something that the Star Tribune Editorial board has been good at understanding. They don't get that it applies to everyone - not just people from North Dakota and that if given a choice, people can and will vote with their feet eventually leaving Minnesota with state of the art stadiums and a population too poor to pay for tickets to the games.