VOICES | Conservatives’ math doesn’t add up

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The Merry Pranksters at the Taxpayers League of Minnesota are entitled to their own opinion about the proposed state constitutional amendment on the Nov. 4 ballot. It would raise the sales tax by 3/8 of a cent, dedicating the revenue by formula to the environment, clean water, parks and trails and the arts, so it’s no surprise that they’re against it.

But in another confirmation of their reputation as the Fact Slayers League, they bolster their argument with faith-based arithmetic. When the pranksters calculate the amendment’s projected annual take of $276 million over its 25-year life, they come up with an $11 BILLION TAX INCREASE, as headlined in red capital letters on flyers distributed at the State Fair.

Using mathematics from Planet Earth, however, the result is a bit different: $6.9 billion. But what’s a little $4.1 billion exaggeration when you’re trying to save the state from voter-approved socialism?

Perhaps the pranksters’ own version of the facts is based on a guess about inflation through 2034, when the amendment would sunset. But nowhere do they tell us that. Maybe that’s because they insist inflation doesn’t exist, at least when it comes to projecting the state’s budgetary needs. That, by the way, is our foolish state policy; we factor in inflation only on the revenue side.

It’s fine to debate the merits of the proposed amendment, officially entitled “Clean Water, Wildlife, Cultural Heritage, and Natural Areas.” A reputable poll shows that Minnesotans are widely opposed to it. But it debases the public discourse, not to mention the already-flimsy credibility of the Fact Slayers League, to baldly make up numbers when the real ones will suffice.