Archive Hosted by the AFL-CIO

Tuesday Talk: How does Minnesota get back on the path to prosperity?

December 06, 2011 By Joe Sheeran, Communications Director

After a string of deficits and annual budget battles, last week’s $876 million surplus is welcome news. However, it doesn’t signal victory for “no-new-taxes,” cuts-only conservative public policy. The long-term outlook forecasts a multi-billion dollar budget shortfall, including $2.9 billion we owe public schools. Also, Minnesota’s tax system still puts a greater burden on middle-class families.

How does Minnesota get back on the path to prosperity? 

Thanks for participating! Commenting on this conversation is now closed.


  • TonyRozycki says:

    December 6, 2011 at 8:19 am

    First elect a new President in 2012.

  • Wayne Anderson says:

    December 6, 2011 at 8:43 am

    We need to get the housing construction sector re-educated and back in productive jobs. There is a lot of demand for people with skills, other than home construction skills. The job market in Minnesota is growing, and the demand for skilled labor is not being met.
    Concentrate on re-education, retooling the layed off work force.

  • W. D. (Bill) Hamm says:

    December 6, 2011 at 8:48 am

    What you seem to be saying here Joe is that things are looking better so let’s grow government again. Being from the majority in this state and country who have never been middle class Joe, I tire again of the middle class framing this as a battle between them and the rich. Worse than that, you expect us to be kissin up to your kind for the scraps we have ben getting for the last 30+ years. We do not stand with you and yours on the concept that increasing the membership in the middle class by adding more public employee jobs is sustainable or inteligent. After all Joe it isn’t the rich who are overadicting all Americans, it is the upper middle class. The same holds for our kids, except now we are talking middle class public employees doing the adicting. We are talking tremendouse public employee job growth via medicare and SSI the more addicting you do, and you and yours created this addiction promotion machine. Now you want our support to grow it further, good luck with that.

  • Mike Downing says:

    December 6, 2011 at 8:55 am

    It is time for MN2020 to start listening to Tom Gillaspy, our State Demographer. Tom is a liberal Democrat yet he is not in denial since he recognizes we are in a “new normal” simply due to our demographics. Tom recognizes that government must focus on productivity to improve efficiency & effectiveness since revenues will not be increasing as they did in the past.

    Tom has a variety of YouTube videos where he describes the “New Normal”. I suggest MN2020 and its bloggers search YouTube for Tom Gillaspy if you truly want to understand the current & future situation analysis from a fellow liberal Democrat.

  • John Crampton says:

    December 6, 2011 at 9:08 am

    Yeah Tony, that’s right.  All of Minnesota’s economic troubles can be traced directly to Obama.  He’s the one who passed the big whopping tax break we gave to the richest 2% in Minnesota in 1999.  And Obama’s the one who actually passed the Bush tax cuts of 2001 that gave a whopping tax cut to the richest 2% nationally.  And Obama is the one who cut all the regulations on banks allowing them to defraud their investors and mortgagees.  And Obama is the one who is letting government mess with your Medicare. 

    What we really need to do is elect a Republican like Romney or Gingrich or Bachmann.  Somebody who will give it all to the rich and get our country in a war with Iran just to show the world how tough we are…. Oh and take care of all the brown people and black people who are ruining our country.

  • KJC says:

    December 6, 2011 at 9:30 am

    Please explain what electing a new President has to do with getting Minnesota “back on the path to prosperity?”  I understand how our choices of leadership at the federal level directly impact our national prosperity.
    What does it have to do, directly, with managing to develop more prosperity here in Minnesota? 
    This is an e-list for substantial discussion and policy conversations, not mere verbal “road rage.” So please explain how Minnesota prosperity is going to be specifically improved by “elect a new President.”

  • Rob says:

    December 6, 2011 at 9:54 am

    With history as our guide, we need to set tax levels to levels that work for the country: pre-Reagan levels proved to be the greatest period in U. S. history. Education was nearly free, property taxes were negligible, Social Security was sound and our infrastructure was second to none. You name it and this country ran like a clock before Ronnie Reagan tipped over the apple cart.

    What can we do? Vote for the most socialist candidate in every election across the land and especially in MN.

    The Republican reign of terror must end. Republicans must be eliminated from office. Period.

  • Rick says:

    December 6, 2011 at 10:02 am

    I don’t see whoever is in the White House having any impact on what Minnesota does as a state. How about some facts to support a statement like ” Getting a new President.” ? As for developing Mn., I believe expanding the manufacturing base and allowing would be start up’s and entrepreneurs better access to investment capital is critical. Plus developing products that we can export to other parts of the world including China. Also, more affordable, and better access to quality healthcare and education that makes everyone stronger.

  • JanetDCohen says:

    December 6, 2011 at 10:59 am

    Hello, I am a U of Mn Grad school graduate and retired/former U of Mn employee. I get a small pension since I was “civil service” for a few years.  This is my suggestion.  Instead of investing state employee money in the volatile and unreliable stock market, invest in Minnesota state businesses. Heck, start Minnesota state business! Stick to what we are good at here. Manufacturing and agriculture, just to name two. I’m all about Organics, we should be world leaders in that. Our food co-op movement is top notch, we can teach the world about this. There is so much potential in these areas.

  • Christeen Stone says:

    December 6, 2011 at 11:45 am

    My first reaction to the Budget Surplus was
    that’s great! Then I started looking at the real figures. How did we get there??
    Oh yes! we gave the schools more money, but then we took it back and they had to borrow 400 million to survive. We owe the tobacco fund 600 million for money borrowed
    for kicking the can down the road during the Pawlenty administration. It’s like giving a person who just lost their home a big loan to buy furniture. So I hope people will look at the real problem and the solution. We had a majority legislature who spent most of their time on social issues. Simple answer this is a ELECTION YEAR !!

  • Rob says:

    December 6, 2011 at 12:49 pm

    Vote for a new FDR. Republican borrow and spend tactics that keep feeding the fat cats must end. We gave the conservativew 30 years and how do you like the results? I liked the quasi-socialist model much more.

  • Lois Braun says:

    December 6, 2011 at 12:56 pm

    I agree with Janet.  I am a current U of M employee who has recently become eligible for their retirement program.  I declined to signed up for the optional additional retirement program because I was not satisfied with the investment options.  I want my retirement money to be put to work building the type of sustainable economy I believe in, an economy that is life-affirming, which the stock market in NOT. 

    Thus I plan to look for my own investment opportunities.  I may forgo the tax-saving opportunities of a formal retirement program, but I believe public expenditures paid for by taxes (excepting military spending) are important for building the kind of society that I want to have around when I am ready to retire.  That will be as important to my quality of life in my old age as the size of my retirement account. 

    Now, where to invest?  Like Janet, I think organic agriculture would be a great place to start! Many green enterprises, such as organic agriculture, recycling, renewable energy, and mass transit, are more labor intensive than our current ways of doing things.  By investing more in them we will put people back to work.  Education and health care are two other sectors in which quality is directly related to the number of people doing the work.  Quality may cost more, but it would stimulate our economy more sustainably than trying to compete with China to manufacture more plastic “thneeds” that end up as trash. 

    By the way, if anyone can suggest an organization that can help me invest my retirement in a way that fits my values, without my having to spend a lot of time on it, I’d appreciate the advice.

  • Greg Kapphahn says:

    December 6, 2011 at 2:46 pm

    I remember the old days when the hope of the average independent investor was to get lucky and “make a killing,” i.e. buy a stock at rock bottom prices that then rocketed to a much higher value, thus allowing them to achieve massive profits on a very small investment.

    By paying attention to the development of creative new technologies and the companies developing and manufacturing them, many people were able to support up and coming innovators and be rewarded handsomely for it.

    Now, however, beginning with the deregulation which started during the Reagan administration, investment functions in an entirely different way.  The stock market has been restructured so that such profits on actual investments in up-and-coming enterprises are not the way the market’s highest-profit investors make their money.

    Now countless companies are destroyed and the economies of entire countries have been severely damaged by machinations of extremely wealthy managers of hedge funds and private equity funds.

    These completely amoral folks have only one goal in mind - to make the maximum profit on their investments, by hook, but far more often, by crook.

    The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, together with various “free trade” agreements and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade have enabled if not having been actively involved in this system designed to extract money from the unwary and the unwise (which includes most of us).

    They position themselves to profit then arrange to do so by investing in ways that lift up companies of questionable value or destroy companies which can be made to seem weak.  Lately they’ve been doing the same with the nations in the Eurozone.

    Although the average investor is largely oblivious to the fact, the value of equities has had little or no connection to the solidity of the companies which issue them, nor has the value of commodities had much to do with the laws of supply and demand (except, of course, the supply and demand of futures contracts available to be traded).

    All investments now tend to rise and fall based on self-serving pronouncement of analysts who are OWNED by the investment banks and the manipulations of the largest stock traders.

    This is one of the ways the 1% have managed to extract SO MUCH of our nation’s resources (and those of other nations) from our own pockets into theirs without providing any actual benefit for those profits.  This is a radical change from the original intent of the entire investment system of the US.

    If we would reverse these trends, we need entities in Minnesota to set up their own ways of trading equities, with ironclad state rules and regulations which cut these manipulative speculators out of the equation.

    It should be possible to create such a system by spelling out that, unlike Wall Street or the national Commodities Markets, it will be open, honest, transparent, and offer average investors a chance to invest in a market which is NOT open to the machinations and manipulations of profiteers and speculators.

    It’s highly likely that investors would find such a system EXTREMELY attractive.

    In this way, we can begin to keep necessary investment at home and rebuild our state’s economy in ways that reflect the honesty, creativity, education and fantastic work ethic of our state’s average citizens,...

    without allowing those who have NO skin the game to swoop in and take our local companies and the lives of the their workers and the communities in which they’re located up or down for no other purpose but to massively pad their own pockets, and stop allowing our state to be damaged by those who could care less about who or what they damage or destroy in the process of extracting massive, undeserved and unjustifiably profits from the pockets of the people of our state.

  • Bernice Vetsch says:

    December 6, 2011 at 10:35 pm

    The Occupy folks are brave enough to actually question our continued worship of capitalism, as though it were the only way to organize an economy. Our recent history shows that unless it is firmly regulated by government, the state’s and the country’s wealth will aggregate to the 1% while the 99% sink into poverty. When you add the ideological refusal to tax those to whom much has been given to deregulation, you get today’s mess. 

    One way being discussed would be to make all start-up companies worker-owned cooperatives.  Such self-managed companies would never allow unsafe working conditions. They would never underpay any worker/member or overpay those who are selected to fill executive and board of directors positions. Minnesota could be the laboratory in which this method was tried. 

  • Mike Downing says:

    December 7, 2011 at 8:51 am


    Thank you for finally showing your colors as a Marxist Socialist with your comment below. Please move to a country that supports your views; Russia, Cuba, etc. would suit you better than what our Founding Fathers created here in the U.S.

    Government regulations actually created our very deep & long recession. The Community Development Act, eliminating “Red Lining”, Fannie, Freddie, Barney Frank, Chris Dodd,etc. were all at the center of the home ownership perfect storm.

    “The Occupy folks are brave enough to actually question our continued
    worship of capitalism, as though it were the only way to organize an
    economy. Our recent history shows that unless it is firmly regulated by

  • Bernice Vetsch says:

    December 7, 2011 at 9:53 am

    You won’t believe this, Mike, but countries like Russia, Venezuela and others that call themselves socialistic actually have stronger economies than ours. 

    They don’t refuse to USE capitalism to create wealth and jobs.  They just don’t expect it to do right by their workers or their countries unless the government forces them to. 

    And it was DEregulation of the financial sector and criminality on the part of Wall Street and the bankers that gave us our current trouble.  Why our government hasn’t indicted and prosecuted them is beyond me.  Our government is rabid over a little embarrassment from WikiLeaks, but calmly bails out the real criminals.

  • Mike Downing says:

    December 7, 2011 at 11:19 am

    Bernice, then you would enjoy giving up your God given individual freedoms to move closer to your fellow comrades in Russia, Cuba & Venezuela.

  • Tony Rozycki says:

    December 7, 2011 at 5:31 pm

    A dwindling minority of my dear fellow Minnesotans remain so naive.  Last time I checked we were still part of the United States. smile  Amusing that almost half the country thinks FDR was the greatest president of the last century & about an equal number think it was Ronald Reagan.  We need efficient intelligent government & we need to produce useful things that people will buy.  I’m beginning to think maybe the president of the last century who would be best for today might be someone with my initials…Teddy Roosevelt.  “Verbal ‘road rage’” ha.

  • Dan Conner says:

    December 15, 2011 at 4:37 pm

    I so tire of the childish statements of accusing others of being “comrades” who need to go to communist nations.  Most of the time the accuser know little about what communism or socialism is.  However, I think the accusation is used by those who have no effective argument to present their case, except to make personal accusations.

    Is one who accuses another of being communist or socialist a fascist?  Is that a noble political/economic system?  Our country has engaged in thousands of socialist acts since its findings.  It might be very accurately said that we are all socialists.  Maybe only fools can’t recognize that.  Compounding that error is the fact that our country isn’t pure capitalist either.

    So, I guess people who write childish namecalling tactics should be saying welcome comrade.  We all are part of this same socialist/capitalist system.  However, one who touts the US as purely capitalist is a fool on a fools errand.