Taxing the Rich & Raising the Minimum Wage Fuels Budget Success in Minnesota

by David Samuels

This column appears in the March 9 – 16 edition of the Hartford News.

Community Party Radio on So-Metro Radio
Commentary on urban issues from a grassroots perspective. First, third and fifth Tuesday of each month. 8:00 PM Eastern Time 7:00 PM Central 5:00 PM Pacific. Tune in!  Next show: March 21. Check out our No Sellout blog for info on the rest of our Community Party Media lineup, including False Choice: the Bipartisan Attack on the Working Class, the Poor and Communities of Color.
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Action Alert: Support the Meagen Hockaday and Trayvon Martin Acts!


The Meagen Hockaday Act has been officially filed: S.B. No. 440
Visit our No Sellout blog for details on how you can support this police reform legislation.
Trayvon Martin Act
The bill has been officially filed. See this link for info on contacting Gov. Malloy, and the Judiciary Committee. Tell them to pass the Trayvon Martin Act racial profiling legislation!
Community Update : Killed by Police
215 people were killed by police during the first two months of this year, an increase for the third year in a row. source:

Police in the U.S. kill people at a rate of 70 times more than police in all other ‘first world’ nations – police in Britain and Germany have both gone at least one year without killing anybody during the past decade. Meanwhile Hyacinth Yennie, Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin’s choice to replace Ricardo M Torres on the Civilian Police Review Board, is complaining to the Courant about protesters hurting police officers’ morale. Torres is the only Board member with law enforcement training, and is also a certified use of force expert. Yennie lists her experience as a cosmetologist. During their February meeting the Board requested the names of the four Hartford Police officers caught on enhanced video stomping Emilio Diaz, following a June 4 car chase that ended in West Hartford. Former HPD Sgt. Sean Spell is the only officer who has been charged in connection with the assault on Diaz.  HPD Chief James Rovella has not responded to the Board’s request. Deputy Chief Brian Foley has emphasized that the video of the four officers is not new, so the department has had plenty of time to view it. 

Tuesday the City Council Public Safety Committee passed Bronin’s resolution to replace Torres and the three other Board members, who Bronin fired in retaliation for requesting the names of the 19 HPD officers who refused to cooperate with the brutality investigation of Spell. There will be public comment Monday, March 13 at 6:00 PM prior to the regular city council meeting at City Hall, 550 Main Street. Supporters of Torres and the other Board members are urged to come out and make your voices heard.
Don’t be fooled by Bronin’s push to find city residents to join the HPD. Former Seattle police chief Norm Stamper talks about the culture of racism in police departments. Stamper points out that this culture is imposed on rookie cops in the front seat of police cruisers, where veteran officers tell the rookies to forget everything they were taught in the police academy. Having Hartford residents on the force won’t matter, unless those residents are willing to reject the racist culture Stamper says is a root cause of police repression of communities of color.
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Coming in 2017. Stay tuned for details in the coming weeks. 
Policy Watch: Minnesota Budget Analysis
While Gov. Dan Malloy pushes his neoliberal agenda, coddling the rich and corporations as he crashes the state economy, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton debunked Malloy’s tax migration myth, and proved that egalitarian fiscal policies can lead to a new economic reality.
This Billionaire Governor Taxed the Rich and Increased the Minimum Wage — Now, His State’s Economy Is One of the Best in the Country
By C. Robert Gibson
The next time your right-wing family member or former high school classmate posts a status update or tweet about how taxing the rich or increasing workers’ wages kills jobs and makes businesses leave the state, I want you to send them this article.
When he took office in January of 2011, Minnesota governor Mark Dayton inherited a $6.2 billion budget deficit and a 7 percent unemployment rate from his predecessor, Tim Pawlenty, the soon-forgotten Republican candidate for the presidency who called himself Minnesota’s first true fiscally-conservative governor in modern history. Pawlenty prided himself on never raising state taxes — the most he ever did to generate new revenue was increase the tax on cigarettes by 75 cents a pack. Between 2003 and late 2010, when Pawlenty was at the head of Minnesota’s state government, he managed to add only 6,200 more jobs.
During his first four years in office, Gov. Dayton raised the state income tax from 7.85 to 9.85 percent on individuals earning over $150,000, and on couples earning over $250,000 when filing jointly — a tax increase of $2.1 billion. He’s also agreed to raise Minnesota’s minimum wage to $9.50 an hour by 2018, and passed a state law guaranteeing equal pay for women. Republicans like state representative Mark Uglem warned against Gov. Dayton’s tax increases, saying, “The job creators, the big corporations, the small corporations, they will leave. It’s all dollars and sense to them.” The conservative friend or family member you shared this article with would probably say the same if their governor tried something like this. But like Uglem, they would be proven wrong.
Between 2011 and 2015, Gov. Dayton added 172,000 new jobs to Minnesota’s economy — that’s 165,800 more jobs in Dayton’s first term than Pawlenty added in both of his terms combined. Even though Minnesota’s top income tax rate is the fourth highest in the country, it has the fifth lowest unemployment rate in the country at 3.6 percent. According to 2012-2013 U.S. census figures, Minnesotans had a median income that was $10,000 larger than the U.S. average, and their median income is still $8,000 more than the U.S. average today.
By late 2013, Minnesota’s private sector job growth exceeded pre-recession levels, and the state’s economy was the fifth fastest-growing in the United States. Forbes even ranked Minnesota the ninth best state for business (Scott Walker’s “Open For Business” Wisconsin came in at a distant #32 on the same list). Despite the fearmongering over businesses fleeing from Dayton’s tax cuts, 6,230 more Minnesotans filed in the top income tax bracket in 2013, just one year after Dayton’s tax increases went through. As of January 2015, Minnesota has a $1 billion budget surplus, and Gov. Dayton has pledged to reinvest more than one third of that money into public schools. And according to Gallup, Minnesota’s economic confidence is higher than any other state.
Gov. Dayton didn’t accomplish all of these reforms by shrewdly manipulating people — Dayton lacks charisma and articulateness. He isn’t a class warrior driven by a desire to get back at the 1 percent — Dayton is a billionaire heir to the Target fortune. It wasn’t just a majority in the legislature that forced him to do it — Dayton had to work with a Republican-controlled legislature for his first two years in office. And unlike his Republican neighbor to the east (Walker, who supported a voter ID law), Gov. Dayton didn’t assert his will over an unwilling populace by creating obstacles between the people and the vote — Dayton actually created an online voter registration system, making it easier than ever for people to register to vote.
The reason Gov. Dayton was able to radically transform Minnesota’s economy into one of the best in the nation is simple arithmetic. Raising taxes on those who can afford to pay more will turn a deficit into a surplus. Raising the minimum wage will increase the median income. And in a state where education is a budget priority and economic growth is one of the highest in the nation, it only makes sense that more businesses would stay.
It’s official — trickle-down economics is bunk. Minnesota has proven it once and for all. If you believe otherwise, you are wrong.
source: Huffington Post
Follow C. Robert Gibson on Twitter:
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