Not surprisingly, the first anti-Rybak talking point coming from the MN GOP has to do with taxes. Their first quote looks at Rybak’s view of the city budget and forecast during the weeks leading up to his first term victory:
R.T. STANDS FOR RAISE TAXES
Raise Property Taxes
Candidate Rybak Promised To Hold The Line On Property Taxes. “To foster economic growth, Rybak said he would improve the city’s financial health, hold the line on property taxes, focus development on small business and industrial growth and send a clear message to downtown employers that the city will respond positively to those who are creating jobs.” (Scott D. Smith, “Rybak committed to private-public conduit,” Citybusiness, October 26, 2001)
The fall of 2001 was a different economy than we have today. Sure, it was a bit past the peak, but few foresaw how far things would fall. In fact, even Marty Seifert was authoring legislation to spend more state money at the time.
Marty Seifert was also busy in 2001 tying up our taxpayer financed legislature (PDF) with a bill that would reduce licensing fees for 15 people in the entire State of Minnesota, by Seifert’s own admission. Yes, 15 people (pdf). Over what? The fifteen barbers who are sole barbers in their shops AND work out of more tan one location would only have to pay one annual $50 license fee rather than one per location.
Seifert, at the time, claimed that this would reduce the size of government because it would be reducing fees. Of course, it also added to the size and complexity of the state’s tax code, which increases the size of government.
Looking back at a pre-election 2001, it seems reasonable to assume that anyone running for mayor or Minneapolis may have had an overly optimistic view of the city’s future budget concerns. Both the depth of the recession and Governor Pawlenty’s cuts to local government aid were not on people’s radars at the time. But don’t let that stop the MN GOP from using that point in time to build a case for hypocrisy. More on that later.