Monthly Archives: August 2013

Senator Torrey Westrom Letter on Childcare Ruling

Dear Friends –

On Sunday, July 28th, federal judge Michael Davis issued a ruling dismissing two cases brought on by childcare providers who oppose unionization efforts.

The first lawsuit had two arguments. First, the daycare providers argued that federal law preempts state law. The judge ruled that the claim was not “ripe”. He disputed that too many contingencies must occur before the law could even conceivably be unconstitutional. Because it is not ripe and there is no current injury incurred by the plaintiffs (childcare providers), he dismissed the argument. The second argument was that the non-subsidized providers’ rights are being violated based on Equal Protection because they will not have a say in the union. The judge does grant that this claim is ripe, but ruled against the providers on the merits because they are not “similarly situated” under law. This is because the state has an interest in negotiating with providers it subsidizes, but does not have an interest in negotiating with those it does not.

In the second lawsuit, the claim was that childcare providers should not be forced to join a union under the First Amendment (freedom of association). The judge ruled that it is too early and too much would have to happen to make this claim ripe, so it was dismissed.

You can find the Pioneer Press article about this issue here: http://www.twincities.com/localnews/ci_23750885/minnesota-drive-unionize-day-care-providers-can-continue.

As of August 1st, 2013, any employee union wishing to represent child care providers may seek exclusive representation. Representation elections for providers must be conducted once a union demonstrates that at least 30 percent of providers have petitioned for an election. The providers on the most recent monthly list compiled by Bureau of Mediation Services are eligible to vote. Under the general Public Employees Labor Relations Act law, a collective bargaining unit is formed after it is approved by a majority of those voting. Daycare providers need to pay close attention to this issue as it will drastically affect their business depending on if they want to be unionized or not.

Childcare provider unionization will make childcare more expensive for families and taxpayers. All childcare providers should be able to provide quality, affordable services to parents without government interference or paying fees to an organization. If the union is successful, many childcare providers who do not want to be unionized or can’t afford it will be forced to reject Child Care Assistance Program (C-CAP) children. In turn, this will create fewer quality childcare providers who will be able to accept children of hardworking, low-income parents.

If you have any questions regarding the childcare unionization law, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I can be reached by telephone at (651) 296-3826 or (855) 407-7386, by e-mail at sen.torrey.westrom@senate.mn, or via mail at 107 State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55155.

Warm regards,

Senator Torrey Westrom
District 12
107 State Office Building
St. Paul, MN 55155
(651) 296-3826
(855) 407-7386

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Mary Franson on Dayton’s statement to repeal farm equipment repair tax:

“I’m encouraged to hear that Governor Dayton and Democrat legislators have finally accepted the reality that the farm equipment repair tax they imposed and hastily passed during the last hours of session would be devastating to hard-working Minnesota farmers,” said Franson. “I’ve heard from farmers throughout my district who were deeply concerned about the disastrous impact this tax would have on their livelihood. I’m happy I can now tell them this tax is likely to be repealed in special session.”

Read more.

Rep. Paul Anderson on Property Taxes

Monday, August 5, 2013

A newspaper headline this past week declaring that “property taxes could drop” in Minnesota made for interesting reading. Although the figure mentioned, $121 million for next year, was only an estimate, my initial reaction was, “Yes, they should go down, because other taxes are going up.”

Keep in mind that property taxes are set by local governments, such as counties, cities and townships, school districts and other local units such as watershed or hospital districts. Members of those governing boards study their individual situations and determine the level of funding necessary to operate their entity for the coming year. Then they set their levy, and the taxes are collected the following year based on the value of residents’ real property that lies within each taxing entity. Money from the state, mainly in the form of Local Government Aid (LGA), has long been used by cities and counties to help balance their budgets without relying entirely on local property taxes.

With the state facing financially difficult times in recent years, the amount of LGA received by local units of government has gone down. That, however, will be changing next year. Funded by the recently-passed $2 billion tax increase at the state level, this state aid will increase by $80 million for cities in Minnesota and by $40 million for counties. Townships are also due for some of this state money as they will receive $10 million annually, starting in 2014.

But that’s not all. Also passed in the recently-completed legislative session was an exemption for cities and counties from paying the state sales tax on most purchases. According to figures from the Department of Revenue, that should result in a savings to those local units of approximately $172 million. I carried a bill giving cities and counties that tax break, but I was surprised they received both the large increase in LGA and the sales tax exemption.

Homestead credits were also expanded, and the property refunds that taxpayers receive directly from the state will also increase.

So, putting all those pieces together should result in lower property taxes. But, again, it’s up to local officials to determine what they will do with the increased state funding. Many have actually cut employees or programs in recent years in order to balance their budgets, so it’s going to be interesting to see how they handle this.

Also keep in mind that increases in state spending must be paid for. The sales tax extension on the labor portion of farm and other commercial repairs went into effect July 1. A new 4th tier income tax bracket goes into effect this year, giving Minnesota one of the highest tax rates in the nation. And a new tax on commercial storage is set to go into effect next April, although there is much discussion it will be repealed before it goes into effect. In addition, several other tax increases, ranging from car rentals to automobile registration, from digital downloads to satellite reception, and some internet sales, will be going into effect.

Dayton’s Shell Game Sends Mixed Signals On Middle Class Taxes

Minnesotans beware.

Governor Mark Dayton has been very clear on where he stands with raising taxes on businesses and “the rich” – yes you.

It’s much harder to figure out where Governor Dayton and the Democrats are coming from on the issue of taxes and the middle class.

They held a press conference this week touting new projections that property taxes would actually decrease in 2014. Keep your eye on those projections, by the way – they come from the same agency that predicted e-pull tabs would finance the new Vikings stadium.

So the Governor says low property taxes are a good thing for hard-working Minnesotans. We agree. But he had to raise over $2 billion in new taxes and fees, much of them on the middle class and even poor Minnesotans, to pay for lots of things including his supposed $121 million property tax reduction.

So which is it? Are higher taxes good or bad for the middle class?

Perhaps Minnesota families can use their projected property tax savings, if it ever materializes, to pay for all of the other cost increases they will experience because of the Dayton/DFL 2013 budget:

•Higher energy bills.

•Fewer choices and higher costs for childcare under forced unionization of childcare.

•Higher premiums, higher co-pays, higher prescription drug prices and even fewer hours at work because of the healthcare exchange legislation.

•New tobacco taxes.

•Higher costs to download music and other files from the Internet.

•Higher costs for car rentals.

Each day it becomes more apparent – Republicans stood against wasteful government spending and for an economic recovery that would continue producing middle class jobs, and what Mark Dayton and the Democrats really wanted was bigger government and more spending.

Yes Minnesotans, beware. Despite their spin, the Democrat’s all-tax-increases budget taxes everyone. And raising taxes in one area to supposedly reduce taxes in another is more than a gimmick, it’s a shell game. Make sure you are watching their other hand.

Prepared and paid for by the Republican Party of Minnesota,
Keith Downey, Chair
Not Authorized By Any Candidate Or Candidate’s Committee