DFL Rep. Ryan Winkler isn't fan of huge tax cut sailing through House

Days after the Minnesota Management and Budget office projected a $1.23 billion surplus for the current biennium, the state House might vote as soon as today on a $500 million package of tax cuts and repeals.

THE BACKSTORY: Mark Dayton doesn't take credit for Minnesota's $1.2 billion surplus... sort of

Cutting taxes while the economy is humming along is obviously a politically shrewd move, and Rep. Ryan Winkler, D-Golden Valley, expects the bill to pass with broad bipartisan support. But as Winkler explained to us, he doesn't believe what's in the best interests of the DFL in terms of the 2014 election cycle is necessarily in the best interests of the state.

"I would not prioritize tax cuts," Winkler told us. "I think we should be reserving more money for future budget problems and we should make investments to reduce tuition, fund early education, and to make up some of the ways we've shorted health care providers."

"The care providers who are taking care of senior citizens and disabled people are living on poverty wages," he continued. "There are many things that are higher priorities for me than the tax cuts on the table this year."

Winkler isn't opposed to tax cuts in general, however. He mentioned controversial business-to-business taxes approved last year as one area in which he believes "some work is in order, though I'm not sure repealing the whole thing is necessary."

"I'm planning to vote against the House bill today," Winkler said. "But I think it will pass with broad support from Republicans and Democrats."

Ultimately, Winkler would like his fellow legislators to adopt an approach more focused on the long-term health of the state and less on immediate political considerations.

"This is my eighth session, and the first where we've had a real opportunity to make investments we haven't made in a long time," Winkler said. "It doesn't seem to be the right thing to jump right into tax-cutting mode, especially since tax cuts are what got us into the deficit debacle we've gotten into the last decade."

In a development that reflects the division within the DFL about taxes, at roughly the same time we were speaking to Winkler, Gov. Mark Dayton's office distributed a press release with this title: "Governor Dayton Proposes $616 Million in Tax Cuts for Middle Class Minnesotans."

"Minnesota's economy has added 133,000 new jobs during the last three years. Our improving economy has greatly improved the state's budget forecast -- giving us the opportunity to put more money in the pockets of Minnesota families and businesses," Dayton says in the statement. "I urge members from both parties to work together to pass these tax cuts quickly."

-- Follow Aaron Rupar on Twitter at @atrupar. Got a tip? Drop him a line at [email protected]

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