The leaders of the Minnesota Legislature appeared on MPR’s Midday today, and even a casual listener had to pick up on the use of the newest word in politics: job creators. We once referred to these people as “employers” or “businesspeople,” but those days are gone.
The leaders panned Gov. Mark Dayton’s proposal for an income tax surcharge on the “wealthiest” Minnesotans, noting correctly that Minnesota would have the highest top tax rate in the nation.
The wealthy are the people who create jobs, the theory goes. And they will move if the taxes go up.
MPR’s Public Insight Network queried higher-income individuals (some of whom would be subject to the increased taxes) about whether they have considered moving out of the state. Here are some of the answers:
“Well, we face high tax rates because we get paid at lot doing jobs that we have in Minnesota. If we leave Minnesota, we leave the jobs. Oops. Plus, taxes are not a major consideration compared to other location issues — livable city, schools, arts and entertainment, family ties. Those other factors are what drew us to Minnesota when we relocated here in 2002.” – Matt, Minneapolis (Above $180,000)
“No. If I was a non-retail employer, I’d move to South Dakota and commute occasionally to Minnesota or move the business.” – Gary, Falcon Heights. ($120,000)
“Yes. Temporary surtaxes do not come and go – they tend to stick around, and get blended into normal tax rates before being repealed. Does the governor believe that fiscal decisions have no impact on what people do? ” Louis, St. Louis Park (Makes over the surcharge limit)
“Yes. : I learned that the estate tax is one of the highest in Minnesota. We do not have the 3.5 exemption like some states which follow the Federal Law. But I can’t fathom moving to such places as Florida, AZ or Texas just to give my descendants a tax break.” Susan, North Oaks (Over $100,000)
“No. No one likes to pay taxes. But it is time we who make more, pay more to assure the education and care of our neighbors. Why would it be a business advantage to continue to provide less education and care to its workers and consumers. ” – Mary, Apple Valley (Over $200,000)
“Only if taxes become so low that the quality of life here is passed up by other states that are more realistic about raising enough tax revenue to pay for quality services. The vast middle of Minnesota residents understand that the State’s budget needs both tax increases and spending reductions in order to balance the budget and take care of structural budget problems. This includes ‘high income’ residents.” – Larry, Bloomington ($150,000)
“Taxes are an important piece of quality of life in all of our communities. One has more impact and control over how tax revenues are spent locally as opposed to nationally. Not enough control, however, due to the influence that well financed corporations have on the political decisions made. Minnesota is a beautiful winter state. It requires adequate funding to remain beautiful, manage winter realities, and provide infrastructure, parks, clean lakes, libraries, education, public services, and support for all of our people. Homeless, starving people without adequate health care, besides the inhumanity of allowing them to suffer, also makes the state a poorer less attractive, less humane place to live. When everyone does better, everyone does better.” – Stacey, Minneapolis ($150,000)
“Family is in Minnesota. Will consider to move after retirement especially if children move out of state. Probably become one of those dreaded snow birds that Governor Dayton now wants to tax more. Our politicians do not want to resolve the reason why people leave the state after retirement (for better climate and don’t want to pay higher taxes), just continue to alienate them so they possibly completely leave the state.” Larry, New Brighton ($170,000)
“We have been known in the past as a progressive state; no longer. I am hopeful Mark Dayton can make a dent in that, but with the dumbed-down legislature, I’m not hopeful. It appears it is more important to denigrate government employees who are struggling than to ask the rich to pay a bit more, which won’t hurt a bit but means a lot less contributed to any politician who votes to do this.” – Laura, St. Paul ($200,000)
“I lived a good portion of my life in South Carolina. I experienced what it was like to live in a state that was not, for the most part, concerned a great deal about the shared life of the people. Government was viewed as a necessary evil and starved, and the quality of life for many people in the state reflected that prevailing attitude. It was most visible in the quality of the public schools. I never want to live in a place that does not value the things undergird the good of all residents, e.g., excellent education, environment, health care and support for those least able to care for themselves. Minnesota has traditionally done that, and I have loved living in a state that cares about its people, its resources, and its future. I have been chagrined at the diminishing level of stewardship of Minnesota’s traditional values, and I hope the current elevation of personal and corporate wealth and its pursuit over the good of the entire state is a short-lived phenomenon.” – Karen, Edina ($150-200,000)
“You should have a choice that includes ‘not yet.’ This proposal is typical of an out-of-touch guy like Dayton. He is as skewed to the left as Pawlenty was to the right. Why can’t they stop spending significantly while increasing taxes moderately? Increasing taxes will just allow the politicians to spend more money. Maybe if they allowed us to ear mark our tax increase I would be more supportive. But giving the money to these career politicians is absurd.” – Micheal, St. Paul ($250,000)
“Minnesota has built an excellent set of lifestyles based on education and progressive income taxes. Our social policy has prevented us from having so much poverty and misery that everybody’s quality of life is diminished. I don’t want to live in a low tax state full of a few rich and many desperate. Minnesota needs to get back on track in developing and maintaining appealing lifestyles supported by opportunity and fairness. In any case, the question isn’t whether to live in Minnesota or another state, it is whether to live in Minnesota or Bangladesh. The states aren’t that different, it’s the cheap labor of other countries that cause businesses to seek competitive advantages in the global market. If businesses can’t understand the benefits of contributing to Minnesota’s social good, they should move their entire corporate staff to one of these lovely places so they can keep a close watch on their operations. ” – Richard, Mendota Heights ($233,000)
“No. My business isn’t something you can uproot. My employees are the reason for our success and we’re not a commodity business.” – Jason, Minneapolis ($400,000)
“So far, just threats. I know of one family that was looking to make the opposite move (Hudson to Eagan) that would certainly NOT do this should a tax hike anywhere near this magnitude go into effect. I know of a second professional that is considering whether to relocate to MN for a job offer and he asked me about this proposal. The approach taken by WI vs that by MN is extraordinary. Where do you think the marginal (private sector) job gets created?” – Jim, Eagan
“At our income level, we should be paying a lot more in taxes than we currently do. I could pay no income tax in Texas. I invite anyone who finds the taxes here unbearable to move there. I’ll stick with the great amenities in Minnesota that are our common heritage – great education, great parks and outdoor recreation opportunities, and the many other services our state government provides. Secondly, I believe in community and solidarity. I strongly support Minnesota Care and believe we should be expanding this program. St. John Chrysostom said that if you have two cloaks, then the one in your closet is stolen from the beggar up the street. St. Anselm referred to personal property as original sin. My community and my life are diminished when those around me do not have basic needs fully met. “No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were. Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.” John Donne, Meditation XVII. In spite of knowing that the public school teachers in Minnesota are among the best in the nation, our children attend private school because the public school teachers are given too many students and not enough resources to do their jobs. My family ends up spending far more on private education than we would in increased taxes if everyone shared the cost of adequately funded public education.” – Robert, St. Paul ($230,000)
“The idea that ‘job creators’ leave MN because of taxes is absurd. People set up businesses here because of the productivity of the workforce and the high quality of life. Rich people and business owners don’t “create jobs” out of the goodness of their hearts; they start businesses here to make money because this is a good place to do that. If a business owner with a palace on Lake Minnetonka threatens to leave the state because of high taxes, I dare them to move to Aberdeen, SD.” – Paul, St. Louis Park ($175,000)
“Higher taxes mean less capital available for hiring and business creation. I am planning to start another business this year and if the tax rates climb I am able to establish the business in another state with lower rates. The world of fiber optic cable and the internet make business moves very doable. ” – Andy, Brainerd ($140,000)
(h/t: Molly Bloom)