Pawlenty warns of a showdown with Democrats over tax increases

Gov. Tim Pawlenty
Gov. Tim Pawlenty told a Chamber of Commerce audience Thursday that he would not support Senate bills increasing taxes.
MPR Photo/Tom Scheck

Gov. Pawlenty says he does not support the tax increases being proposed by DFLers in the Minnesota Senate. The DFL-led Senate introduced several bills this week that would raise the gas tax, the sales tax, the cigarette tax and vehicle taxes. Democrats also introduced a plan that would provide property tax relief and greater investment in renewable energy. Some of the proposals include raising the gas tax by a dime, to 30 cents a gallon, to pay for roads. Another proposal would increase taxes on cigarettes by $1.00 to provide health insurance for children.

Gov. Pawlenty told the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce Thursday night he opposes those initiatives. Speaking to reporters after the event, he said he expects a showdown if the Senate stands behind their proposals.

"There is no way they need to raise taxes. The money we have on the table is enough. It would be a 10 percent increase if we spent it all. And I think most Minnesota families would say live within your means just like we have to and that's we intend to do. I'm not going to be proposing or supporting any tax increases."

Senate Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller, DFL-Minneapolis, told the chamber group, it's unfair to characterize these proposals as tax increases alone.

Grow the Future of Public Media

MPR News is supported by Members. Gifts from individuals power everything you find here. Make a gift of any amount today to become a Member!

Pogemiller says the package will decrease the congestion in the metropolitan area and will improve access from the Twin Cities to rural parts of the state. He predicted the package will receive bipartisan support in both the House and the Senate.

"This is an area where I think the governor's best judgment would be to compromise with the bipartisan support in the Legislature to move Minnesota forward in the area of transportation," Pogemiller said.

Gov. Pawlenty says he will veto any bills that include a gas tax increase.

House Minority Leader Marty Seifert, R-Marshall, sided with the governor. He said his caucus will will oppose any tax increases.