Monday, February 22, 2010

Paying forward!

The Growth and Justice Folks had an excellent Op-Ed in the STrib, yesterday! They start with a reality check:
Put down your coffee cup. Minnesota's state government needs to raise taxes by as much as $1 billion a year. Pick the cup back up. That's only four-tenths of 1 percent of our annual $230 billion in personal income. And it would still leave the total portion of our income paid in taxes smaller than it was a decade ago.
Then they get into details:
After a decade of cutting corners and underinvesting, our state's public structures are showing the strain, in ways that damage business interests. A few examples:

•Supreme Court Chief Justice Paul Magnuson has been traveling around the state to make the case personally for no new cuts to Minnesota's stressed court services -- taking on the governor who appointed him. Courts and the rule of law are essential not just for public safety but also for conflict resolution and contract enforcement for businesses.

•Delays and deteriorating roads -- due to the state's fast-growing congestion and crumbling transportation infrastructure -- build higher costs into the prices of products produced or sold here.

•Our public schools are being forced, in effect, to loan money to state government. Students at Minnesota's two-year colleges pay the third-highest tuition and fees of all 50 states. And Minnesota faces a growing achievement gap between white and nonwhite, and between affluent and poor households. These trends represent an erosion of Minnesota's educational advantage, the bedrock of our economic success.

•We now have the largest percentage of Minnesotans without health insurance in recent history. Some 480,000 children, men and women now lack health insurance, and that population is expected to increase this year. State assistance with medical coverage, a program slashed deeply by budget cuts, actually helps remove pressure on employers to cover this expense.

From the current depleted baseline, the governor proposes to cut the state budget by another $1.2 billion. More tax cuts would inflate that damage.
There was another one I noted yesterday, too. The former Republican State Senator, now Republican Mayor os St. Cloud was on At Issue sharing his frustration with a depleted budget, cuts to local aid, and facing the tough decisions to now start limiting services, both safety and infrastructure related.In the SCTimes they mention:
St. Cloud and Stearns County officials say Pawlenty’s proposal likely would force them to reduce basic services again, on top of deep cuts they’ve already made.
St. Cloud’s leaders cut 10 percent from the city’s 2010 budget after losing more than $5 million in state aid since late 2008, Mayor Dave Kleis said Monday. Pawlenty’s proposal would reduce state aid to St. Cloud by an additional $4.97 million through the 2011 fiscal year.
Such reductions may help Pawlenty maintain his no-new-tax stance, but that approach simply shifts government costs to cities and counties, Stearns County Board chair Mark Sakry said.
“It may look like a good sound bite when you run for president, but it’s not helping the local taxpayers,” Sakry said.

The Right is in a precarious position. The State is cutting to the marrow and it is beginning to impact the electorates every day lives. If the Right isn't careful, and continues down the path of governmental elimination, they may just blow their chance to make up some ground both locally, and nationally!


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