Taxpayers League targets friends

A leading anti-tax group is criticizing some of the most conservative members of the Legislature for breaking a pledge not to raise taxes.

"Why Do Politicians Break Their Promises?​" was the headline of e-mail alert from the Taxpayers League of Minnesota.

The group called on its members to contact seven Republican lawmakers and ask them why they're backing legislation that would allow the state's horse tracks to operate slot machines.

The lawmakers being targeted are some of the fiercest opponents of government spending. They include Rep. Mark Buesgens, R-Shakopee, Rep. Linda Runbeck, R-Circle Pines, Rep. Bob Gunther, R-Fairmont, Rep. Bob Barrett, R-Shafer, Rep. Andrea Kieffer, R-Woodbury, Rep. Branden Peterson, R-Andover and Sen. Mike Parry, R-Waseca.

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Runbeck is a former president of the Taxpayers League. Parry is running for Congress in Minnesota's 1st District.

Taxpayers League President Phil Krinkie says it's a tax increase because the state would take a cut of the money from the machines, to pay for things like fixing the school funding shift, renovating the state Capitol building and financing a Vikings stadium. He said he's surprised lawmakers who called for holding the line on spending are now backing an expansion of gambling in Minnesota.

"There was a call from some of these very same people of 'not a penny more.' So how do you go with the math in a few months from 'not a penny more' to a couple a hundred million more?," Krinkie said.

Parry said he's surprised anyone would consider the so-called Racino legislation a tax hike. He called gambling a "voluntary activity."

"Gambling is a game of choice," Parry said. "You don't have to gamble if you don't want to. We have gambling in the state of Minnesota. This is not feeding the beast."

Krinkie said the state's tribes, which own and operate casinos in Minnesota, have given money to his organization, but he said that has nothing to do with his group's stance on the issue. He said the league is concerned about any effort to increase state spending.