I must admit, other than the TV ads, I had no idea what this was about so I did some digging. First I went to the above mentioned sites home page, yesformn.org. It was a little bit frustrating, due to the lack of details… lots of feel good stuff, but not so much details. Granted, they do have the text of the legislation, but it doesnt give me a good feel pro or con. Ie, it reads like a single issue agenda site. (then again thats the intent) So, I did a bit more googling, and found the site nosalestaxincrease.org. What I found was fascinating, they have a page entitle 10 reasons why you should vote no. The fascinating part, was the reasons to vote no, led me to the conclusion that a yes vote is the right way to go.
Reason #3 If passed, $300 million each year will be dedicated solely for the purposes of the arts and outdoors. Although these things are important, the role of the state legislature is to decide where taxpayer dollars are spent each 2-year budget cycle. We elect representatives to the legislature to prioritize spending. This amendment would allow $300 million of taxpayer money to bypass the legislative process and force them to spend it on the arts and outdoors, even if that year there were higher-priority needs for other things, like roads and education.
Thats a pretty big reason as to why to vote for it… otherwise, other priorities will always come before the arts and the outdoors. This is a real chance to make a difference long term, and have it locked in stone.
Reason #5 If this tax increase passes, hundreds of non-profit organizations will lobby to get their hands on these government grants. As opposed to government departments, non-profits do not have to report where and how they spend their money. Once these non-profits receive government grants from the dedicated funding, taxpayers will never see where their money is spent.
Despite changing parties, I’m no fan of big govt… and if non-profits can run with this, so much the better. They do have a point as concerns accoutability though, but I think its a risk worth taking.
Reason #6 This will be a precedent-setting amendment if it passes. Once our Constitution begins to dedicate money to specific spending projects, there will be no end in sight of coalitions and special interests enticed to seek constitutionally dedicated funding for their own pet projects. Just in September, Speaker Anderson-Kelliher (D-Minneapolis) mentioned she can now start planning a constitutionally dedicated gas tax. If this $11 billion ballot question passes, we can guarantee we’ll see many more and many higher tax increases on future ballots.
I like the idea of dedicated tax revenues being used for dedicated purposes. Sure, no one likes taxes, but by golly if gas taxes all went for roads, instead of being a till waiting to be raided for other pet projects, I’m all for it.
Reason #7 The tax increase on the ballot didn’t start out as a tax increase at all. Initially the idea was a bill to dedicate a portion of the existing sales tax to environmental conservation programs only. But that plan proved unpopular with liberal legislators who didn’t want to divert current sales tax revenue to rural environmental programs. So instead they are asking voters to increase the state’s sales tax by an additional almost half a percent and direct billions of those dollars to arts and cultural heritage.
Sad but true… nimby is alive and well in all of politics. This takes nimby out of the equation, and billions of dollars to arts and cultural heritage, esp in a negative going economy may well keep many orgs afloat, that had they been left to fend for themselves might end up closing up shop. Its an investment for the futurue.
Reason #8 Just looking at the 200+ groups supporting this tax increase shows that this is nothing more than a slush fund for special interest groups. Over half of the groups are arts and theater organizations. The only reason they are supporting this and are willing to give large donations to the vote yes campaign is because they know they will receive free taxpayer dollars if it passes. Don’t let them tell you this is for Minnesota’s outdoor heritage alone; billions of dollars will go to art and theater organizations.
Again, arts and theatre, generally the first ones hit in a downward looking economy, thus it makes sense to vote yes.
Many of the other reasons they present make for good points, but I think the upside well outweighs the negative issues. I doubt they expected their vote no site to rally folks to vote yes, but at least in my case, it locks in a yes vote. Likely a few others who want to see a greater emphasis on arts and theatre, to say nothing of the added environmental issues. I almost wish the vote for mn site had brought these issues to light…. then again, there are folks who are anti spending, esp tax money on the arts and theatre, so perhaps not. I will say this though, an employee well versed in the arts often times ends up being a better employee than those with tech skills only. Years back, I had a Cellist as an R-D technician… he didnt have engineering credentials, but he could give 90% of all the engineers out there a real run for their money. Another friend was a bassist and engineer, and his work on Darpanet way back when made a world of difference… I fully believe his years as a professional musician helped a great deal in his engineering career. Arts and theatre education makes a world of difference in a wide range of occupations… its just hard to put a dollar figure on it, and thus its a bear of a thing to sell. The legislators were very wise in tieing this into fishing, hunting, clean water etc. Its a very forward looking piece, and its likely to be a positive revenue generator for the state, albeit being a soft issue, nearly impossibe to attribute absolute causation.