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House majority leader says a temporary tax would be fair

Published 10:00am Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Minnesota House Majority Leader Erin Murphy said Tuesday she thinks a temporary tax on the state’s top earners would be a fair way to pay off the state’s $800 million debt to schools.

“We all participate in the economy, and the way we have been balancing the budget in the last decade has really hurt the middle class,” said Murphy, DFL- St. Paul. “I think we need to look at the budget as a whole and look at the tax code and make sure it’s fair.”

Erin Murphy
Erin Murphy

The tax — or surcharge, as some term it — would be in addition to Gov. Mark Dayton’s proposed fourth-tier tax increase.

She said in the past when a temporary surcharge has been used, it has been used only for its intended purpose and then the tax ended.

Murphy and District 27A Rep. Shannon Savick, DFL-Wells, stopped by the Tribune Tuesday for an interview during what is a week-long break before Easter.

The visit comes a day after House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt and two other Republican legislators visited the Tribune.

The discussion comes as the Legislature comes up with ways to save a $627 million state deficit.

Murphy said the proposed DFL budget framework makes a strong investment in education, calling for an investment in early childhood education and all-day, every-day kindergarten. It also reforms the market value housing credit and makes some changes to the property tax refund for renters.

“The budget remains the centerpiece of our work,” Murphy said. “We’ve done a lot of preparation, and I think you’ll see a Legislature that is highly productive.

“When we’re finished, Minnesota will be better positioned for the future.”

 

Gun control

Savick, who is a member of the House Public Safety Committee, said she thinks what came out of the committee regarding gun control was a positive step forward, but she doesn’t think that is the total solution.

“I think it is what we had to compromise to get,” she said.

Savick said the gun control bill enhances background checks and would require people to have either a permit to carry or a permit to purchase to be able to buy guns at gun shows.

Whether it will get approved on the House floor, she said, “is anybody’s guess right now.”

Savick said she has sent out surveys to people in District 27A, and when she looked through the returns, there were about 50 percent of the people who were against greater background checks and 50 percent who were in favor.

Shannon Savick
Shannon Savick

“Myself, I’m going to vote for it,” she said. “I feel it’s a moral issue. “If one child gets saved because we did this, to me, it’s worth it. I couldn’t vote the other way and sleep at night.”

 

Health exchange

Murphy said the new health insurance exchange approved this session will extend coverage to about 300,000 people when it is up and running.

She called it an ambitious piece of law — something that will benefit people like her husband, who is a small business owner.

She said it should be in place by October.

 

Local government aid

Murphy said the formulas for local government aid have been reformed and under the new formulas, more people are going to benefit. The new formula will also stabilize the amount of funding given to local governments.

She did not have an estimate on how the LGA would change in Albert Lea under the proposal.

 

Same-sex marriage

Savick said she thinks legislators should vote on whether to allow same sex couples to marry in the state.

“I think it will pass,” she said. “Again this is a moral issue with me.”

She talked about her gay brother who has been discriminated against since he was a child.

“I believe in equal rights for everybody, and the right to get married is part of the equal rights.”

 

Transportation

Murphy said she recognizes the needs for infrastructure improvements in Greater Minnesota and said DFL leaders are working to come up with a balanced transportation budget — one that addresses the increased populations in the Twin Cities with the needs of Greater Minnesota.