St. Cloud Times: Dorsher: TV Ad Misleads

Mark Sommerhauser
St. Cloud Times
Feb. 10, 2013

An independent group is airing an ad in St. Cloud linking DFL House candidate Joanne Dorsher to Gov. Mark Dayton’s plan to overhaul the state sales tax.

But Dorsher says the ad misleads voters by claiming she backs Dayton’s proposal when she remains undecidedon it. The ad isn’t being run by any of the campaigns in the House District 14A race, in which Dorsher, Republican Tama Theis and the Independence Party’s Todd McKee are competing. The special election in the race isTuesday. The ad, which hit local airwaves last week, is paid for by a group called Minnesota Jobs Coalition, chaired by strategist Ben Golnik, former executive director of the Minnesota GOP.

Dayton’s tax proposal, which has generated its share of controversy after being introduced Jan. 22, would increase tobacco taxes and income- tax rates for wealthy people while cutting the corporate tax rate, freezing the statewide property tax on businesses and giving property-tax rebates of as much as $500 tohomeowners.Perhaps the most talked-about provision of Dayton’s plan would extend the sales tax to transactions that aren’t currently taxed, includingmany servicesand certain clothing purchases, while decreasing the tax rate.

“Dorsher supports Mark Dayton’s plan to raise the sales tax by $2 billion,” the ad says. “That new winter coat? Dorsher and Dayton will tax it. Haircuts? Dorsher and Dayton, they’ll tax them. Car repairs? Dorsher and Dayton will tax them.”

Dorsher says the claim isn’t true. She said Thursday, as she did in a previous interview, that she remains undecided on Dayton’s proposed sales-tax overhaul.

“What they’re saying is a distortion,” Dorshersaid. To support its claim, Minnesota Jobs Coalition points to Dorsher’s interview with the Times Editorial Board Jan. 29. When asked by the board for her reaction to Dayton’s tax plan, Dorsher’s response included the statement that “I supportthe widening of thesales tax.” Dorsher says she was referring to the general concept of broadening the sales-tax base — not to Dayton’s plan in particular. She correctly notes that many politicians and groups of various parties have proposed extending Minnesota’s sales tax to more goods or services while also lowering the rate.

“I support the idea of widening the sales tax while decreasing the rate. That is not specific to Gov. Dayton’s proposal, because I need to see the numbers first,” Dorsher said. “I want to know the impact on small businesses, too, before I can fully support any of it.”

Dorsher has repeatedly said she’s most hesitant to support the provision of Dayton’s plan that would extend the sales tax to business-to-business services such as accounting, legal, consulting or other services. She also says she wants more information on how Dayton’s sales-tax plan would affect the middleclass.Dorsher has expressed support for several other tax increasesproposed by Dayton: Boosting income-tax rate hikes on the wealthy, increasing tobacco taxes and extending the sales tax to certain Internet purchases.