Officials at the Minnesota Department of Revenue are saying Independence Party gubernatorial candidate Tom Horner has not submitted his budget plan for review, but that Horner’s campaign contacted them to see if the tax plan would work.
At the most recent debate last week, Horner said he submitted his budget plan for a review…
Horner: “We’re going to take medical services off of the table. We won’t tax those. We won’t tax prescription drugs or medical devices and the numbers do add up.
Republican Tom Emmer: No they don’t.
Horner: The Revenue Department says they did.
Emmer: They have not and you have to be honest about it.
Horner: I’m just curious as to where your information is that the Department of Revenue has said my numbers don’t add up because the Department of Revenue told me that the numbers do add up.
Emmer: Well put it out there. We’ve asked and haven’t been given anything that supports that.
Horner: Tom, That’s just not true, you know that’s not true.
Emmer: What we have been shown is that you have to make much broader attempt.
Horner: That’s just a blatant lie.”
But Revenue spokeswoman Kit Borgman says Horner’s team “generally discussed their proposal” with Revenue Department Research Director Paul Wilson but didn’t submit the plan for a review. Horner is proposing to expand the sales tax to clothing and unspecified services and lower the tax rate. He says his tax plan would raise $2.15 billion.
Borgman says Wilson said that the “general idea about broadening the sales tax and lowering it can get him where to where he wants to go.” But Borgman said Wilson couldn’t provide greater detail on whether Horner’s numbers work because Horner hasn’t specified which services he would tax.
Borgman said Wilson offered to review the budget plan, but Horner’s team declined. (Update: Borgman said Horner’s team didn’t ask for a total analysis of their plan. “He said they didn’t ask him to bless their numbers so to speak or estimate the impact,” Borgman said. “Because he (Wilson) said it would be impossible anyway because they didn’t have enough detail.”)
Democrat Mark Dayton has repeatedly criticized Horner for not offering specifics as to which services he would tax.
Horner’s campaign is the only major party campaign that hasn’t submitted its plan to the revenue department for analysis. Dayton was forced to revise his plan after the department found it wouldn’t raise as much money as he projected. Republican Tom Emmer submitted his plan to cut taxes to the revenue department for review, but Emmer is not proposing a tax increase. He has outlined general areas where he will reduce spending to balance the books. Emmer, however, has not said how he would specifically reduce spending in each category of the budget.
Horner just told MPR News that Revenue Department officials confirmed that his plan has the capacity to raise $1.3 billion from his sales tax plan. But he admits that there is more work to be done to identify “the services that make sense.”
Horner also said that he won’t expand the sales tax to business to business services, food, medical services and medical purchases and equipment. Horner said he’s open to expanding the sales tax to all other consumer services.
“What the Department of Revenue has said is ‘Consumer services, clothing, reduce the rate by one percent, is there a potential of $1.3 billion there? Yes.’ And so, yes, I do acknowledge that everything is on the table. It doesn’t mean we’re going to end up with everyuthing on the table it does mean we do have to evaluate everything to reach a final judgement. That’s going to take more people involved. It’s going to take more resources. It’s going to economic modeling. We want to make sure that we’re doing this in a way that build the economy of Minnesota not in a way that gets us to November 2nd (Election Day).”
Update: Tom Emmer released this statement:
“Today we learned that Tom Horner has not in fact had his massive sales tax increase analyzed by the Minnesota Department of Revenue, contradicting what he stated only days ago. As a result, Minnesotans must ask themselves, what else is Tom Horner hiding from us?
“Tom Horner has clearly shown his intentions to grow government spending in an irresponsible way. He has no way to pay for that unsustainable growth except through massive sales tax increases. Those sales tax increases will crush Minnesota families by taxing everything from clothing and garage sales to baby formula. At least Senator Dayton had the intellectual honesty to admit that he can’t balance the budget even with enormous income tax increases.
“My two opponents are fighting for the bragging right of who will tax Minnesotans more and who can promise more with no way to pay for it. In contrast, I am the only candidate proposing an honest, balanced budget and calling for government to live within its means.”