An argument for change: Raise revenues, protect disability services from cuts

The Arc Minnesota position

During this legislative session, the Minnesota Legislature should approve and Gov. Mark Dayton should sign a two-year state budget that increases revenues. Revenue increases raised fairly are necessary to help prevent further cuts to disability services and supports and to increase investments in those services.

 

Why revenues should be raised

For a decade, Minnesota has faced state budget deficits almost every year. To eliminate these deficits, solutions typically relied on cutting state services, borrowing from schools, and shifting money from other sources of revenue. Disability services bore a significant burden when balancing the budget; hundreds of millions of dollars were cut from these services over the past decade. 

These cuts have not balanced our budget. More importantly, they have caused harm to people with disabilities and

their families and have not enabled Minnesota to meet the needs of Minnesotans with disabilities or adequately invest in their abilities and talents.

• 3,600 Minnesotans with disabilities wait for services that will help them be more independent and be part of our communities.

• One in 88 children is now diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. Minnesota families are becoming more vocal

about the need for services so their children can succeed in school and in life.

• Special education funding is inadequate – a barrier to success at school for children with disabilities.

• Many families already pay unaffordable fees for the services that help keep their children with disabilities at home or living in the community.

• People with disabilities continue to have higher rates of unemployment and lower rates of participation in the labor force than people without disabilities.

The state faces a $627 million budget deficit for the next two years, not counting inflation. Failure to raise adequate revenues will mean that disability services will again be among the targets for budget cuts, and that investments in people with disabilities will continue to lag behind current and future needs.

 

Legislative action in 2013

Dayton’s budget for the next two years includes increased revenues from higher income taxes on the wealthiest two percent of Minnesotans, increased taxes on tobacco products, the end to some exemptions from corporate taxes that include foreign royalties and foreign operations, and taxes on internet sales. The Minnesota House and Senate have proposed raising revenues on the highest income earners, with the House also considering an income tax surcharge on the wealthiest Minnesotans to finish paying school districts back for delayed payments that erased deficits in previous state budgets. The Senate is also considering raising higher revenues from tobacco products, and it is proposing to expand the state sales tax to clothing and a number of services purchased by consumers.

Information provided by The Arc Minnesota

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