Survey shows broad support among Minnesotans for highest earners to pay more taxes.

Survey finds pandemic is hitting the poor and people of color harder than whites
Tax form
Photo credit Bloomberg / Contributor

A survey of 2,051 registered Minnesota voters shows a majority support raising revenues from profitable corporations and high-income households, and support core priorities, such as making child care more affordable. The survey was conducted by Data for Progress in December for the Minnesota Budget Project, an initiative of the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits.

“These survey results show broad support for raising revenues from those Minnesotans with the most resources in order to make needed investments,” said Nan Madden, Minnesota Budget Project Director. “State investments are needed so that Minnesota can fully respond to the pandemic and economic downturn so that Minnesotans can be healthy, safe, and economically secure; to protect the community and public services that Minnesotans count on, and build a more equitable recovery.”

Specifically, 67 percent of voters support raising income taxes on households making over $250,000 a year, and 67 percent support increasing taxes on profitable corporations. In addition, 72 percent support additional spending to expand affordable child care, and 61 percent support state funding to address racial inequities and provide equal opportunity for all Minnesotans.

These results are seen across regions. For example, 69 percent of voters in St. Cloud (Senate District 14) support both increasing income taxes on high-income households and increasing taxes on profitable corporations. In addition, 74 percent of St. Cloud voters support additional state spending on affordable child care and 64 percent support funding for racial equity and providing equal opportunity.

Minnesotans are experiencing significant challenges to their health and well-being – many of which they were facing before the pandemic and the subsequent economic crisis hit. Minnesota’s next two-year budget must include new revenues for critical investments so that all of us, regardless of who we are or where we live, have what we need to thrive, from good schools and affordable child care, to broadband access and quality health care.

The survey also found that 61 percent of Minnesotans support funding policies aimed at reducing racial inequities and providing equal opportunity. It is imperative that policymakers act so that all of us, regardless of race or zip code, have what we need to succeed and thrive.

“Too many of Minnesota’s children have been left behind because of COVID,” said Julia Freeman, director of Community Engagement for Voices for Racial Justice. “But while all students have felt the impact of COVID-19, the data shows that students with disabilities, English Learners, homeless students, students in foster care, students of color, American Indian students, and students on tribal land have faced some of the most significant challenges during distance learning.”

This recession is likely the most unequal on record. In December 2020, hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans reported facing deep hardships:

·        9 percent of adults said their families didn’t have enough food to eat;

·        15 percent of renters were behind on rent payments; and,

·        29 percent were having trouble affording basic household expenses.

At the same time, for those folks who had the most resources, the recovery is well underway. Soaring stock prices and property values, as well as a recovering job market for higher-wage jobs, have helped increase assets for those who already had the means to possess them.

Kimberly Gary is a single mother from Red Wing and worked as a skilled construction laborer apprentice as a member of LIUNA Local 405. She has not been able to work in the construction field for nearly a year and is also caring for her youngest son, who has special needs and is asthmatic.

“I was finally able to earn a livable wage, and it was rewarding to see my kids being proud of me,” Gary said. “I began setting goals for homeownership until the pandemic and the recession brought all my momentum and hopes to a grinding halt. Our leaders have a duty to help everyone recover equally, no matter our race, where we live or the work we do. They also have a responsibility to set us all up for stability and success beyond this moment.”

According to Tanis Henderson, a school counselor in the Deer River public schools and president of the Minnesota School Counselors Association, the Legislature has underfunded public schools and the youth mental health system, especially in Greater Minnesota.

“There was a mental health crisis before the pandemic -- it’s worse now,” Henderson said. “Only as students come back into classrooms full-time are we seeing the true size of the problem. School counselors and other mental health professionals are doing great work right now. The problem is there aren’t nearly enough of us. We need the money to hire more people but that won’t happen without raising new revenue.”

These uneven impacts of COVID and the recession and long-term challenges require investments in public services that allow all of us to thrive. It’s unacceptable to merely go back to a status quo that left so many out of the state’s prosperity. Minnesota must make investments so that all of us, regardless of who we are or where we live, have what we need to thrive, from good schools and affordable housing, to child care, broadband access and quality health care.

Minnesota Republican leaders oppose raising taxes, saying it's not necessary because there is money in the reserve fund.