I attended the board meeting on 4/1/14 and sadly, was the lone ordinary taxpayer addressing the Board in opposition to this new tax they want to impose on us. The mayors of Prior Lake, Savage, as well as a council member from Shakopee and few business people were all in favor of the tax. The only other opposition came from a representative of CAG. We need more ordinary taxpayers participating in these hearings. Below is my address to the Board for those of you interested in what I had to say.
I’m Alexandra Matyja from Prior Lake. Thank you for this opportunity to make my voice heard.
I’m just one of many ordinary taxpayers striving to cope with the real and difficult challenges that we are forced to face every day. Having lived under the communist regime, I know for a fact that those in the ruling class hardly ever feel the pain of ordinary taxpayers. So, I would like to paint for you a picture of the true reality that most of us must deal with.
Regardless of what the government tells us, we know that the inflation rate is much higher than 2%. A simple trip to the grocery store or the gas pump plainly confirms it. Our hard earned dollars simply do not go far enough these days.
Many of us have lost our jobs and are forced to cope with long term unemployment. Those fortunate enough to land a new job, have had to settle for drastic salary and benefit decreases. Many of those who are willing to work full time are not able to because employers are cutting down on work hours.
All of us are forced to make drastic adjustments in our lives. We have to scale down or eliminate dining out. Instead of steak, we have to settle for pizza. We have to postpone that big purchase that we dreamed about and saved for, because we have to leave more of our dollars in the grocery store and at the gas pump. We have to evaluate our basic needs and our wants, and then make discriminatory choices. But it’s becoming more and more difficult to cut items from our budgets when all the wants have already been eliminated.
But what about our ruling class? They never appear to be hurting. Instead, they keep coming up with creative and never-ending ideas for taking away more of our money, and spending it on their pet projects just because they can.
This past week I received my property tax statement. This year it’s going up 6%. That’s on top of the 10% increase last year. I also recently received my renewal for the tabs on my 14 year old Chevy Malibu. There was a $10 wheelage tax included. I remember not that long ago we had no wheelage tax. Then it was instituted at $5, and in just a few short years it has doubled. Do any of you honestly believe that it will remain at the new rate of $10 from now on? If you do, you must also believe in Santa Claus.
Unlike the Board of Commissioners, ordinary taxpayers are not able to vote themselves salary increases. We are also not able to force our employers to grant us much needed pay raises. And most of us certainly do not earn 6 figure salaries. In these lean times, for many of us it has been a while since we’ve seen a pay increase, much less a 4% pay increase. So it is very difficult to stomach 4% increases for our commissioners, and even higher increases for our sheriff, and county attorney, knowing that all of them are coming out of our own pockets.
So, no, I am not in favor of a new transportation sales tax. It does not matter that it’s only half a cent. I don’t believe in Santa Claus, and I know that it will not remain at a half a cent for long. We have too many taxes already. We don’t need a new one. If our ruling class needs more money, I suggest they face reality like the rest of us have to. Tighten your budgets, eliminate your wants, concentrate on the needs, and don’t spend money you don’t have. And if you have to borrow, then don’t spend more until you pay off what you already borrowed. Furthermore, start refusing state and federal goodies. We all know that they come with strings attached.
Instead, start governing wisely, efficiently, and autonomously. And eliminate all waste and abuse. We have a great example just to the east of us. In a short time, Scott Walker has changed a $3.6 billion deficit to a $1 billion surplus. And then, get this, he came up with this crazy idea - to return most of this surplus to its rightful owners – the Wisconsin taxpayers. I suggest that all those who are fond of making rules for the rest of us learn from Mr. Walker. Obviously he’s doing something right.
And who knows, if cities, counties, and other states follow, perhaps, just perhaps, a domino effect would erupt that would help to restore much needed fiscal sanity to all of America. Sadly, our public officials, seem to have forgotten that they are supposed to be our servants, and they no longer seem to care what the taxpayers want, what we need, or what is right. This needs to change. Will you let it? Or?
If we drive our car, will you tax the street?
If we try to sit, will you tax our seat?
If we get too cold, will you tax the heat?
And if we take a walk, will you also tax our feet?