Dayton likes infrastructure tax, Chamber of Commerce not so much

MinnPost file photo by Bill Kelley
Gov. Mark Dayton

At Roll Call, Tom Curry sees Gov. Dayton’s call for an infrastructure tax as the takeaway from last night’s debate. He says, “ … Dayton, a Democrat, proposed a wholesale state sales tax on gasoline to raise revenue to pay for transportation infrastructure. He said the tax would raise close to the $6.5 billion the state needs for infrastructure projects over the next 10 years. The state already has a 28.6 cents per gallon tax on gasoline. Dayton – who is favored to win a second term – made his proposal at a time when lawmakers in Washington have been struggling to figure out a way to raise revenue to replenish the federal Highway Trust Fund over the long term.”

Naturally … MPR’s Tim Pugmire tells us, “The results of a statewide survey released today show most Minnesota business leaders are opposed to new transportation funding sources. The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce’s 11th annual Minnesota Business Barometer Survey found that 57-percent of the 350 randomly sampled participants believe the state does not need to find new revenue to make needed investments in transportation.” I mean, a fresh round of pro-business tax cuts ought to do it, right?

St. Thomas is #8! Alexandra Svokos at the Huffington Post notes Princeton’s annual review of the best law school faculties in the country. “Duke University School of Law students have a reason to celebrate being at the fifth hardest school to get into: They are being taught by the best professors, according to the Princeton Review‘s newest ranking, released Tuesday. … Other major law schools, like Boston University, Stanford University and the University of Chicago, make up the top ten best professors list, but smaller schools like Regent University and the University of St. Thomas also made the cut.”

Truly in the “for what it’s worth” category. Jesse Berney at the BlueNation website (i.e. liberal) offers a snapshot of where Senate races are today around the country. “The Senate is the real mystery. As recently as two weeks ago, the data-driven punditry was predicting a Republican takeover of the majority, but as the campaigns have kicked into high gear, predictions have shifted in the other direction. Now the most common guesses are close to 50-50. … Some races were over before they started. These are the easy picks that pretty much everyone agrees on. Democratic Incumbent Holds: Delaware (Coons), Hawaii (Schatz), Illinois (Durbin), Massachusetts (Markey), Minnesota (Franken), New Jersey (Booker), New Mexico (Tom Udall), Rhode Island (Reed).”

For In These Times, Sarah Lahm looks at big outside money … in Minneapolis school board races. “In the aftermath of a failed 2013 bid for mayor, former Minneapolis city council member Don Samuels is running for a spot on the school board. If he wins, he will undoubtedly be able to thank the extensive financing and canvassing support he’s received from several well-heeled national organizations, such as the Washington, D.C.-based 50CAN, an offshoot of Education Reform Now called Students for Education Reform (SFER), and various people associated with Teach for America, which has been called a ‘political powerhouse’ for its growing influence in policy and politics beyond the classroom. These groups often project an image of grassroots advocacy but are in fact very well-funded, often through the support of extremely wealthy hedge fund managers and large philanthropic foundations. Together, they and like-minded ‘education reform’ proponents have dramatically, but not necessarily democratically, altered how public education works throughout the United States.”

Shopping for cheaper car insurance? Move to Mankato, or Winona. A Rochester Post-Bulletin story says, “Analysts at ValuePenguin reviewed annual premiums across more than 100 cities and 18 insurers in Minnesota. On average, drivers in Minnesota can see annual premiums of $1,152, ranging from the lower end of $1,009 in Mankato to $1,303 in Minneapolis. ValuePenguin ranked Austin as second cheapest at $1,034 per year, Winona as fourth cheapest at $1,039 and Rochester as fifth cheapest at $1,044.”

As with the country in general. Adam Belz at the Strib reports, “The number of job openings in Minnesota is rising, but once again, the quality of available jobs is questionable. According to the most recent data on statewide job vacancies, released Thursday, the number of openings rose 16.7 percent to 84,696 at the end of the second quarter. That is the highest total of vacancies in 13 years, the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development said. … The median wage offer for all openings at the end of June was $12.05 per hour, compared with $13 per hour at the end of 2013, and $12.50 at the end of June 2013.”

The Strib offers its thoughts on the for-profit college industry. “Evidence increasingly suggests that some segments of the for-profit college industry are taking students — and taxpayers — for a ride. Drawing up to 90 percent of their revenue from various government programs intended to help low-income students pay tuition, some of these schools deliver questionable degrees, suffer extraordinarily high dropout rates and loan-default rates, and charge tuitions that are far higher than those at public community colleges. … Yes, critics are generally right: The industry needs more regulation and better oversight. Students and taxpayers deserve better outcomes than they’re getting.” And remind me,  when will the Strib make an endorsement in the Second District congressional race?

Today’s news from Wisconsin … .  Kent Tempus of the Green Bay Gazette reports, “A 33-year-old man and 29-year-old woman had sex in a squad car after being pulled over for drunken driving in Oconto County. Travis Husnik of Luxemburg and Heather Basten of New Franken were being transported in August to the Oconto County Jail when they started having sex in a squad car. The deputy stopped the car, told Husnik to pull his pants back up, then put Husnik in the front seat. … ‘What do I sentence a guy who has sex in squad car to?’ asked County Circuit Court Judge Jay Conley during the recent sentencing in the case. ‘I’m getting to be pretty old guy and I’ve never seen that situation in my legal life. It’s not like you have a lot of law school courses or training on what do you sentence a guy who has sex in a squad car to’.” Well, he could start by making the guy clean up the squad car.

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Comments (14)

  1. Submitted by Pavel Yankovic on 10/09/2014 - 03:55 pm.

    When will it end?

    An increase in the gasoline tax? Is there no end to the amount of taxation that Minnesotans will tolerate? We’re already one of the highest taxed states in the country. Is there no end? Paying all of these taxes certainly has not improved my quality of life here. Isn’t the function of government to serve the people? Not here. The populace serves the government.

    • Submitted by Todd Hintz on 10/09/2014 - 06:09 pm.

      End It Today

      Just move away.

    • Submitted by jason myron on 10/09/2014 - 06:51 pm.

      Serious question, Pavel…

      Why do you stay here? I read comments like yours proclaiming Minnesota to be some tax hell hole, but when I ask others that same question, I hear nothing but crickets. What’s stopping you from moving? Surely there are other low tax states that are “open for business” that might be more to your liking, so what’s the story? According to the tax foundation, Minnesota ranks 18th in the nation in combined state and local tax rates. I’m happy to pay it as it affects MY quality of life and the lives of my wife and kids. I’ve lived in places like Texas and Arizona….be careful what you wish for.

    • Submitted by jody rooney on 10/09/2014 - 07:00 pm.

      So move.

      You are free to go elsewhere any time you would like. I mean no one should stay if they don’t like it. If you would like a free ride state there is always the south. Their taxes are low but they sure get a lot of federal money. Now let’s see Texas has no parks so if that isn’t of value to you go there.

      If you can’t move because you have a job or are going to school here, well duh.

      • Submitted by Pavel Yankovic on 10/09/2014 - 08:10 pm.


        have begun the process and will be out of here in about 18 months. I have chosen to vote with my feet. And I will take a high six figure income and all of the taxes that I pay on it as well as what I spend with me.

        The state of Minnesota will continue to drive off high income earners with it’s oppressive taxation. And you who promote it will be affected eventually.

      • Submitted by Pavel Yankovic on 10/09/2014 - 08:18 pm.


        The state of Texas has no parks? How do you know that? What do you base your claim on? Is that your barometer for good quality of life? Truth be told, the parks in this state are far underutilized.

        • Submitted by jason myron on 10/10/2014 - 12:03 am.

          Truth be told, Pavel?

          Not even close. State parks are 32 of the top 50 tourist destinations in this state and state park attendance has been increasing throughout the last decade as opposed to national park attendance which has been decreasing. Also, I actually lived in Texas (one of the highest property tax rates in the nation, by the way) and what’s left of the state park system down there is atrocious,. Funding has been cut to the bone, the parks are in disrepair and potential sites are vacant. So, best of luck in taking you and your “high six figure salary” cough cough.. to a better place.

  2. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 10/09/2014 - 04:13 pm.

    Rule of Thumb

    Over my 60+ years I’ve learned a simple rule that can easily be applied to Gov. Dayton’s new gasoline sales tax proposal,…

    if the “Chamber of Commerce” is opposed to it, it’s absolutely a good thing for us REGULAR folks and needs to happen,…

    and I thank God that we don’t now have a governor who is using his term(s?) in office to audition for nomination to higher office from the GOP or a job as a spokesmodel for concerns run by and for the richest of the rich,…

    with a six or seven figure salary just for having boyish good looks.

    • Submitted by Tom Anderson on 10/09/2014 - 09:25 pm.

      Couldn’t agree more

      “if the “Chamber of Commerce” is opposed to it, it’s absolutely a good thing for us REGULAR folks and needs to happen,…”

      By raising the gas tax a measly $1.00 a gallon, we’ll only be paying $4.00 per gallon which will fund further transit projects and bikeways and hardly notice the difference when other people fill their tanks. If only the President would do the same and raise the Federal gas tax by a measly dollar those other people will still only be paying $5.00 per gallon, very few of those people being REGULAR folks.

      • Submitted by Pavel Yankovic on 10/11/2014 - 08:05 am.

        Hardly notice the dfference?

        Do you speak for everyone when you say that? Maybe you and I wouldn’t notice it but plenty would. The only thing good about the gas tax increases would be more tax revenue from those in the lower tax brackets. Same with taxes on cigarettes and booze.

  3. Submitted by Susan Herridge on 10/09/2014 - 04:40 pm.

    Gas tax

    Happy to pay a gas tax, if it means we can have infrastructure improvement. I certainly don’t want a repeat of the bridge collapse. In fact, I’d be happy to pay an additional “don’t be stupid, this contributes to climate change and therefore we need a stiff penalty to change people’s behavior” tax, that might finally help my family work out other transportation options: bike, carpooling, walking.

    Happy to Pay for a Better Minnesota. I still have that lawn sign in my garage. And I mean it. And Mark Dayton is the one to deliver on that.

  4. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 10/09/2014 - 04:48 pm.

    Not quite “absolutely”

    Mr. Yankovic is correct, I think, in judging Minnesota to be a high-tax state. My state income taxes here remain 3 times what they would be if I were still living in Colorado, and my property taxes are roughly 150% of what they would be if I were still living in the Centennial State. That said, my standard of living in Minnesota has not diminished in any substantial way that I’ve been able to measure, and is, in fact, better than it was when I lived in Colorado. I attribute that happy fact primarily to two factors: housing costs (ownership) are substantially lower here than in Colorado, even with higher property taxes; and transportation costs are also lower. Living in an urban area, even though my Minneapolis neighborhood is the antithesis of “efficient” from the urban planning standpoint, nonetheless lowers my annual VMT (Vehicle Miles Traveled), so I’m buying less gasoline, accumulating fewer miles, thus lowering my insurance costs, and it also means that many of those slightly-out-of-the-ordinary destinations, whether the theater or a specialty retailer, are closer at hand than they were in metro Denver.

    Minneapolis is rather far removed from perfect, but from the standpoint of cost-of-living, it’s better than where I came from, even if the scenery leaves much to be desired.

    As for the C of C, I would only modify Greg Kapphahn slightly. I can’t cite any examples offhand, but I’m inclined to be skeptical about absolutes, so I’d have to say that “…if the “Chamber of Commerce” is opposed to it, it’s *usually* a good thing for us REGULAR folks and needs to happen…” My own personal needs and interests do not often align themselves very well with the interests of the Fortune 500 companies that are headquartered here – or anywhere, for that matter.

  5. Submitted by jody rooney on 10/09/2014 - 07:03 pm.

    The irony of the Chamber’s position is that they

    probably benefit most from a good transportation system.

  6. Submitted by Bill DeCoursey on 10/09/2014 - 08:21 pm.

    It is a bargain

    When I started driving in the late 60’s, the gas tax was about a penny a mile for my average mileage car. Now in my newer average mileage car it is about a penny per mile. With what the state pays the chamber’s members for concrete, equipment, fuel, etc. compared to then, I would say that the gas tax is one of the best bargains we have going.

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