Schwab talks taxes at public forum

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 3, 2002

With Minnesota expecting a $1.4 billion deficit next year, people are concerned about how their tax dollars will be used and whether taxes will increase.

State senator Grace Schwab and state senator Bill Belanger, a lead member of the Senate Tax Committee stopped in Austin Thursday to address some of those concerns.

Schwab and Belanger agreed the solution to the deficit is to cut spending. "We do not want to increase taxes because that would work a greater hardship on the public," Belanger said. "Minnesota is a high-tax state. We should be able to get by on less. There are other economies that can be worked."

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Increasing the business taxes weren't a solution, either, Schwab added, because those increases would result in higher prices for goods and services.

Though it will be challenging, Schwab said it's important the state balance its budget. "We have to make the budget balance like we do for our family budgets. You can't just go to your boss and say 'I need an increase in my salary because I spend more than I earn.' The state has to be responsible for its spending," she said.

Geoff Baker, the Mower County Republican party chair, said he was pleased Schwab and Belanger addressed the issues they did. "I'm glad they're talking about important things. Both of these folks are right that tax policy is going to be a very big issue," Baker said. "In an era when we've got a bigger appetite to spend than we can afford, we need people in St. Paul to protect our paychecks."

Jeff Anderson, who is running for the state House of Representatives seat 27B, agreed. "The last thing we want when we have a forecast like this is to say, 'gee, the only option is to raise taxes.' We want to look at other options than raising taxes. We want to protect people's paychecks and make sure our tax dollars are used wisely."

Amanda L. Rohde can be reached at 434-2214 or by e-mail at