Friday, July 1, 2011

MN Budget; Where is the Leadership?

Minnesota Government is shut down.
There has been a difference of opinion as to how to adjust to make up for the $6.2 billion budget shortage. In February, Minnesota's Management and Budget office,  declared  that the projected state deficit had fallen to $5 billion from $6.2 billion.

Not only that, but the state will end its current fiscal year in June with a $663 million surplus instead of a projected $400 million, because Dayton accessed federal money tagged for health care expenses for poor adults - money that Tim Pawlenty refused.
Let's keep in mind that less than 1/3 of states pay more into the Federal Government than they take back. MN has been one of these "Donor" states at least as far back as 1977. This does not necessarily mean we financially support the country, states have different resources that need Federal funding. Although the Federal Government needs more money right now, is it wrong for us to take a little more to shape up our state after so many years of MN donating to other states? Can other states contribute more, at least for a while? We are one of the highest taxed states.

Following suit with the rest of the nation but not hit as hard as most other states;
23,000 jobs were lost in MN in the last 6 months of 2007
55,000 jobs lost in 2008.  
75,000 lost in 2009, bottoming out September 2009.
September 2009 thru November 2010, MN jobs grew by 40,700 and have been slowly increasing since.
When thousands of people no longer pay taxes because of income loss, the state loses revenue. Former Governor Pawlenty, during time of a recession and after, made billions of dollars in cuts to health and human services, local governments, job programs and put higher education back to 2006 levels. He also put into process the states very high corporate tax to begin declining bringing it from a flat 9.8% down to 4.8% in a six year period. He believes in low Corporate taxes and low taxes for top incomes. The fuel excise tax was increased by .005 twice in 2008 then set to increase annuallyThe MN property tax  increases averaged 5.3%  during 2007 through 2009 and 2.6% in 2010. 

We run into some difficulties here.  With many more unemployed, not of their own accord, but because of lack of jobs we have more hungry and people without. Services were being cut as the number of people in need increased. The Federal Stimulus included extensions of unemployment insurance payments which helped laid off workers make ends meet and continue to purchase necessities which continued to provide sales for businesses. 
The "foreclosure boom" that began in 2006 has caused property values to decline and many owe more on their mortgages than the homes are worth. Rather than property taxes declining with the values, taxes have increased.
Although property and excise  tax increases distribute tax burdens, some individuals and businesses that have been struggling in this economy have complained of the increased costs.
As we slowly recover from the deep recession of 2007, can we afford to go from one of the highest corporate tax states to one of the lowest?

MN has a diverse economy. The relative outputs of our business sectors closely match the US as a whole. 33 of the top 100 US publicly traded companies (by revenue in 2008) are headquartered here, including the largest privately held corporation in the US, Cargill.We are farmers, laborers, minors, business owners, executives. We have been historically successful and have a humble pride in working together and have a strong work ethic. Even in the Nations difficult times we maintain one of the lowest unemployment rates.

Politically, we historically vote for a Democrat as President. In the last 32 years, we have chosen Republican Governor's in 20 of these years, Independent for 4, Democrat for 8 and most recently chose Mark Dayton (D), the great-grandson of the founder of MN Dayton's Corporation the original parent company of Target which is still headquartered in Mpls.

Most Minnesotans don't judge people differently based on whether the person rides in a limousine or a green school bus. We look for integrity and for people we feel we can trust.
When the going gets tough we get going. We pull together.

The last decade we have seen a change. We have seen political party wars that we are not accustomed to. We have seen division in our elected leadership. In 2009, our DFL held a leadership summit that included 2 of our respected former Governor's, Al Quie and Arnie Carlson both Republicans. Rather than utilize the advice and experience of these people that have provided what MN wants, our GOP scheduled a different meeting at the same time with MN business owners, discluding our DFL. How did we respond to this? We elected Mark Dayton to have the final say over the decisions of our elected lawmakers. We want our officials to work together to provide us with the best.

‎Governor Dayton announced in February 2011 that he would only accept a balanced budget that includes responsible cuts and responsible revenue increases. He was clear as to what he would approve and what he would veto. Instead of working numbers out, our House and Senate continuously submit proposals that are outside of our Governor's direction and leave shortages of over $1 billion. Is it impossible to devise ways to be responsible in both areas?

MN nice = smile, be respectful and courteous, work hard and harder as times dictate, never forget; especially when it comes time to vote.

Question: The last compromise Governor Dayton proposed was to raise income taxes on incomes of $1,000,000. If he is still talking the rate he was in March, which I'm not sure if that has changed, instead of taking home $17,721 a week, they would take home $17,125 a week. That is a big difference. Do you think it is wrong to place such a large % of the burden on these few or do you think they should do it temporarily until we recover?

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