The 2013 Minnesota legislative session came down to one issue, said District 16A Rep. Chris Swedzinski.
“This was a tax session,” he said, adding as a result of the decisions made in St. Paul this year every Minnesotan is go-ing to pay more in taxes.
Whether it is the in-creases that come form the newly created health care exchanges as part of the federal affordable care act or the increase in sales taxes, Swedzinski said he believes the public is going to be negatively impacted by those decisions made by the DFL led House and Senate working in conjunction with Gov. Mark Dayton.
“I have talked with a lot of business owners who are very concerned with what all of these new taxes are going to mean for them,” Swedzinski said, adding new costs for businesses in the long run could negatively impact all of the state. “I represent a lot of border communities, and it is going to be even harder for those businesses to compete with South Dakota. They are either going to have to find ways to make their product cheaper, or they are going to have to pass on the costs through higher prices consumers pay.”
For Swedzinski, the issue facing the state is all about right-sizing the government.
“The issue is we have lost sight of what is most important,” said Swedzinski. “As the state and federal government gets bigger the role of local government lessens.”
For Swedzinski the most important level of government is the family unit, and he fears the more government grows the more the role of the family in society is diminished.
“Government is at its most efficient when it is closest to the people,” said Swedzinski, add-ing the people with the best tools, whether it is township, city, school or county government, are the ones who make the best decisions.
The session, said Swedzinski, is going to hurt a lot of people, especially in rural areas, especially as the government continues to focus its attention on the needs of more of the metro areas.
“We are choosing winners and losers,” he said, adding the losers continue to be those farthest away from the seat of government.
As a member of the minority party, Swed-zinski said bills he was working on did not get very far, but when he was able to have Democrats author the bills they were given more attention.
He said the proposals for local projects, including the sports center in Marshall and the Lake Redwood reclamation project were in the bonding bill for a while, but in the end they were cut as the bonding bill finally approved was much smaller than the initial $800 million proposal.
Page 2 of 2 - Swedzinski said he is hopeful those bills can be introduced again in the 2014 session when the bonding bill is the main focus of session action.
Swedzinski said the tax increases approved during the 2013 session were the largest in three decades with those with annual incomes as low as $22,000 paying more as a result of the final decisions. Minnesota, which recently ranked as the seventh highest taxed state in the U.S., is likely to go up in those rankings as a result of this legislative session. The full impact of the session decisions may not be felt for a while, but Swedzinski believes it is not going to be good for anyone.