Program works; don’t fix it

A news report this week indicates some legislators are worried that a successful program is getting too popular, so they want to fix it.

The state’s local sales tax program allows cities like New Ulm to charge a local sales tax to fund things the state doesn’t want to pay for. In New Ulm’s case, it has paid for the New Ulm Civic Center and other expansions and improvement, and will be paying for the RENU projects that will enhance the city’s park and rec system. New Ulm had to get approval from city voters and from the Legislature to levy this tax.

But some legislators are worried that the program is becoming too popular. Last year 18 cities added or extended their city sales tax. Legislators are worried the program is unfair to communities that don’t have enough retail to use the project. Last session legislators made it put more limits on city sales tax proposals. How this will help cities with little retail, we don’t know.

The city sales tax system works, otherwise cities would not be applying in record numbers to use it. The state should not punish cities for whom the system works to mollify cities for whom it doesn’t work. It should instead seek some way to help those latter cities fund the services and faciltities they think are necessary.