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Tuesday Talk: How does the Governor sell a balanced approach?

February 15, 2011 By Joe Sheeran, Communications Director

Today, Governor Mark Dayton releases his budget proposal for the next biennium. It’s going to be a balanced approach, pairing cuts with new revenue. However, as conservatives in the legislature have already demonstrated, they’re determined to balance a more than $6 billion budget through cuts only. It’s an effort to continue failed, “no new taxes policy” and will only hurt Minnesota’s prosperity. What’s your take?

What must Governor Dayton do to convince conservatives a balanced approach is the way to move Minnesota forward? 

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


  • David Mennicke says:

    February 15, 2011 at 9:20 am

    Keep emphasizing the idea that the upper income tax bracket should be equitable with the lower/middle income brackets—all pay their fair share.

    Work in incentives for higher income individuals to invest in more jobs—i.e., lower corporate taxes in exchange for higher individual income taxes on top bracket.

  • herb says:

    February 15, 2011 at 9:27 am

    All he can do is propose his compromise plan and point out that if we hadn’t cut the progressive income tax for the last sixty years and increased the deductions and tax credits, we would not have a deficit and then hope like the dickens that the ignorant public checks it out and pressures the legislature to end this downward spiral.

    This isn’t a dem v rep thing!

    So far the rich are winning the class war and they seem to be on a roll.

  • Mike Downing says:

    February 15, 2011 at 9:38 am

    Once again you are asking the wrong question. The right question would be:

    What would Gov. Dayton need to do in order to produce a sustainable budget where MN can effectively compete in the longterm with other states and other countries in this highly competitive and interconnected global economy?


  • Michael says:

    February 15, 2011 at 9:50 am

    Again, the governor believes that if we keep talking about being 6 billion in the hole must mean we need to raise 6 billion. This budget is almost 20% more than the last one. That is not sustainable and we need to get our spending under control.

    Good Luck with this governor, he is listening to the wrong people.

  • Brian says:

    February 15, 2011 at 9:56 am

    The Govenor must remind conservatives that any given society can be judged by the way they take care of the sick and the elderly.Everyone has been touched by someone less fortunate than themself at one time or another.It is time to remember grandma or grandpa in the nursing home;It is time to remember the handicaped;It is time to remeber the mentally ill;It is time to remember the little guy who is forced to pay higher local taxes because the State of Minnesota has passed along the expense and the responsibility to the local comunities.

  • KJC says:

    February 15, 2011 at 9:57 am

    Regardless of what’s being proposed, I’m sure there will be a disagreement between the Legislature and the Governor’s office.
    And while this doesn’t qualify as a gotta-do-something-this-week crisis, it is very important to the future of everyone in our great state.
    The history of skillful handling of difficult issues is definitive.  Yes, it is.  Everything has to be on the table. 
    Sacrifice isn’t politically sellable unless it’s Shared Sacrifice.  There can be no sacred cows.  As soon as you say something like “no new taxes/”  What you’ve said is some group is privileged and won’t have to share in the sacrifice.  Then everybody just wants to be in some sort of privileged group then, of course.  Those with money and power will use it to make sure, the lobbyists love this job security. 
    Even then it will be tough sledding, but a deal would be possible. Do you see a willingness to put it all on the table and genuinely negotiate?  So far all the sacrifice has been pretty much one-sided, and looking at the anger in the last election, they’ve had enough. 
    I’m awed by the focus of the Egyptians on the core problem, instead of being diverted by all sort of tactics…  will Minnesotan’s insist on the same Straight Talk?  It’s the only way out of this.

  • Jim Weygand says:

    February 15, 2011 at 10:00 am

    We need to look at history. If we go back to the Republican Carlson era, the state had high taxes, but a well educated work force, and invested in our people and infrastructure. Our economy was one of the strongest in the nation.

    Then we cut taxes especially for the rich and cut investment in our people and State. With a Governor who promoted the failed policy of Trickle Down Economics, although he did not call it that, we have brought the State to economic crisis and economic mediocracy.

    We need to look at the past when we were successful by investing in people, State and efficient government.

  • Nate A says:

    February 15, 2011 at 10:15 am

    We NEVER SHOULD’VE LOWERED TAXES in 2000 & 2001.  Raising taxes and making cuts must be in the solution.  Try to reduce the impact on lower incomes.  Create incentives to keep jobs in the State.

  • Dennis Dyce says:

    February 15, 2011 at 10:22 am

    The governor hit the nail on the head regarding tax equity issues.  The upper income tax payers are paying historically less than their share of taxes given their larger than proportional share of the wealth.  Yes, upper income people need to wake up and do what’s right.  The common good is in everyone’s best interest economically, socially and spiritually.  Persons who disportionally benefit from their work or investments in our society should be taxed disportionally.  This reality is factually supported by social and economic research.  The common good is good for all strata of society from top to bottom only when everyone buys into the program.  We need to put the message out to the public and repeat it whenever and however times necessary to downsize the impact of right wing shock talk hosts who presently dominate the airways.  Go Governor Dayton!  Your ideas if/when implemented are transformational.  You are the essence of the “Yes We Can” movement which will lead us all to a brighter, happier future.

  • Mike Downing says:

    February 15, 2011 at 10:22 am

    The answer to your question is for Gov Dayton to show Minnesotans the actual spending over the last 10 to 20 years and explain what the taxpayers have received on spending increases of 2-4 times the CPI.

    Then Gov. Dayton needs to explain why the DFL increased the budget 27% which created the $6.2 Billion shortfall for this biennium and why a 5% increase over current spending is not enough.

    The fact is THERE IS NO $6.2 Billion shortfall if we increase spending by 5% which matches the projected revenue increase of 5%.

  • KJC says:

    February 15, 2011 at 10:28 am

    Jim:  Couldn’t agree more with your analysis.  Yes, that was the formula for success, not so long ago.
    It was foolish to abandon it, but it got votes.  It’s likely worth trying again, as I don’t see very many actual strategies on the table that make sense.
    What?  Those who think lower taxes are going to fix this are not being realistic. Whatever you do must be a crucial difference to decision makers.  If you drop your tax rates say from 20% to 15%, but your neighboring states are at 5%, do you really think making that change will matter?  I doubt it.
    We have to do what you suggest, which is to look for a formula for success, which is where we can make a difference.  The slightly higher cost, but higher-educated workforce was our advantage.  It’s been eroded by political gamesmanship starting with J.V.
    That was the first election where Minnesotan’s tried to send “a message” to the political parties.  Sending a negative message, rather than a constructive one rarely works out, just like road rage on the highway often has poor outcomes. 
    My concern is are we being diverted from thoughtful and constructive paths by endless class-baiting rhetoric.  It seems the easiest way to get votes, and such a proven dead-end for real and effective governance.
    Trying to get back our old advantage is certainly worthy of consideration.  Don’t be surprised if getting it back costs more than just supporting it all along would have cost.  And don’t be surprised if it doesn’t provide as big an advantage as it did back then.
    Such is the cost of the global economy, which as it is currently configured is clearly a free—but not fair—- trade plan for US workers. 
    Whenever I here these kind of discussions what traps do I look for?  “Privatize the gains, socialize the losses” structures.  This (usually unsaid) agenda is what has driven our great country into a big hole, and it won’t really get out, until it tacks those losses on the gains. I can hardly wait to hear the screams about unfair “accountability” from the business community?  Don’t be surprise if they use that word a lot now… only aiming it at We The People… while continuing to exempt themselves.
    Again, not a bad idea to try and get our old advantage back.  It’s worthwhile to look for a new one, too Making us a low enough tax state to be competitive on that basis alone?  Not possible.  We can’t have “separation fees” on barrels of oil leaving, like some states have to cover their budgets.  Which is to say? Gasoline users all over the country effectively pay some of their state taxes.  (They even send checks back in Alaska.) Too bad we didn’t get Big Bucks when we gave up our White Pine Forests and Iron Ore ... but hindsight is 20/20?

  • michael sampica says:

    February 15, 2011 at 10:36 am

    remind the state legislature that for every dollar of tax cuts they pass the local property taxes will be going up by that same dollar and the school districts will have the same issue when it comes to funding local education. Thus the Republican-tea party will become the Party of Cut and Tax elswhere just don’t blame me.

  • Ginny says:

    February 15, 2011 at 10:36 am

    Governor Dayton needs to convince the voters of the unfairness of the current tax system—what the rich, middle class, and poor—pay. I don’t think people fully understand this. Nor do they understand that property taxes are going up (mine is going up 11.1%) BECAUSE of the no new taxes ideology of the former governor and the legislature which thinks it has to toe this line. Surely, there must be some republicans who do understand but choose to continue following that dogma for political reasons, so education is one possible way to persuade the people. Get out the big colored charts and SHOW THEM!

  • KJC says:

    February 15, 2011 at 10:49 am

    Another good observation on this e-list.  I find that, at the bottom of much of the tension over this is a fundamental disagreement that hasn’t been settled.  When you disagree on assumptions, and don’t resolve that fist, things rarely are workable. 
    So what assumption, that’s actually a gimme, might be under all this?  It’s the clause that says “to promote the general welfare” in our Constitution.  Actually it’s in their twice!  In the preamble and in Article 1, as I recall.
    The history about this would be instructional?  The original Articles of Confederation lacked this language.  The Federal Government had the authority to have an army, but had no means to raise the money… had to rely on the States to contribute.  (One example.)  Guess what didn’t happen?
    So our Founding Fathers went back to the drawing board, having learned from their mistakes.  By 1787, they put that phrase in TWICE!  How’s that for a big message?!  These days it tends to be referred to as the Common Good, as the word “welfare” has changed in public impact over the last 200 years. 
    I often find that that those who are “anti government, anti this, and anti that” don’t believe in the general welfare, they’re always pushing something much more like: “you’re on your own.”  Reagan was good at selling that… the gift that keeps on “giving.”
    Then?  To make matters worse, they pretend the Constitution is on their side.  That is wrong, twice wrong as a matter of fact.  They often refer to things that aren’t actually even in the Constitution, like “free markets/capitalism.”   
    Now can you see where many disagreements become unworkable and unresolvable?  You at least have to be willing to stick to the facts.  If others have to remind you, so be it.  Promoting the general welfare (which is listed separately from things like defense, etc) is a clear purpose.  To disagree on that is to be UnAmerican, given the Constitution, isn’t it?  Read the Preamble, check for the repetition, you’ll find I’m correct.
    I think once we’re all held to account for the General Welfare as part of our union, everything will get a bit easier to resolve.  Discussions will be more civil, for example.  Who’s willing to bring this up, and get the fundamentals back in, every time a discussion seems to be going south?
    Thanks for your time an attention.
    P.S. Do you think it a random event that the words “promoting the general welfare” went missing later?  Where?  In the Constitution adopted by the (southern) Confederate states after they seceded from the Union.  Please let’s not have another civil war to resolve this fundamental issue again?

  • Rick says:

    February 15, 2011 at 11:19 am

    I remember Governor NO speaking on a talk show about a year ago, when asked a question about rising property taxes, he said ” people should just complain about their property taxes.”  That attitude has put us in this mess.I am a huge advocate both nationally and state-wide of Pay as You Go to balance the budget. Both cuts and increases.

  • Ginny says:

    February 15, 2011 at 11:33 am

    You are right. It is a fundamental disagreement about the purposes of government. So who would take care of the old and sick and people in poverty. My fundamentalist-republican cousin who lives in the deep south (she was born here so she must have been contaminated after she got there) says private charities. So I looked all of that up and discovered how totally inadequate and inefficient that would be with all kinds of groups giving varying amounts to all kinds of causes. And Americans would have to give 10 times as much as they do now.
    Who is left, then. to keep people out of poverty, from dying on the streets for lack of food and warmth, from dying for lack of medical care? We don’t do an adequate job of this now, but it’s better than trying to rely on the good will of others.
    And to me, it is also practical. If you let people die needlessly on our streets) you have unsanitary streets (somebody has to pick up the bodies), or you just let people die or starve (or freeze to death or die of heat stroke). If people don’t get some form of support so they can buy food, etc., they’ll probably turn to crime to feed themselves and their children (I would) and there would be a breakdown of society. Who would help people bring themselves out of poverty, or addiction, or illnesses or whatever? Or have a decent place to live? The list goes on and I haven’t even mentioned public safety.
    I for one don’t want to walk over bodies in the street or risk getting communicable diseases that are easily halted.

  • Ginny says:

    February 15, 2011 at 11:42 am

    One more thing: some businesses and leaders have advocated that corporations and the wealthy back increased taxes on themselves (Warren Buffet comes to mind), and have even taken out full page ads to say so. And many ordinary people are perfectly willing to pay higher taxes, especially if the tradeoff is a safer environment, communities in which people are not panhandling or whatever—and their property taxes quit going up and up. Governor Dayton, obviously, is one of them as a wealthy man.
    Interesting how many well-off individuals are willing to sacrifice for the common good—FDR, Kerry, JFK. Andrew Carnegie, who said the man who dies rich dies disgraced—wouldn’t that be wonderful if today’s wealthy would glom onto that idea?

  • Bernie Bauhof says:

    February 15, 2011 at 12:16 pm

    I think this excerpt from The St. Cloud Times sums it up.
    “This biennium, Minnesota’s general fund budget is scheduled to spend $30.7 billion. The Department of Revenue said in its November forecast that Minnesota’s revenue will increase by between $1.5 billion and $2 billion To have a $6.2 billion deficit, Minnesota would have to spend almost $39 billion, an increase of 26.5 percent from the current biennium’s spending”
    Can we afford an increase in spending of this magnitude? A proposed tax increase bill will not survive the house and senate. Instead of focusing on increasing taxes he should focus on increasing the number of taxpayers. It’s time for the Governor to examine this 26.5% increase in spending against the projected 5% increase in revenue, drop the nice to haves, and focus on the have to haves.

  • Bernice Vetsch says:

    February 15, 2011 at 12:20 pm

    Economists and other social scientists have pointed out many times that we cannot starve the public sector without also eventually destroying the private economy that depends on it for its survival and success.

    In a 2005 essay, Fred Block described it as “The Thing Economy and the Care Economy.”  The thing economy produces and sells products and services of value to consumers.  Its function to the overall society is to build wealth.

    The care economy consists of all the pieces of society that support the thing economy and make it possible——

    education; health care; the care of children, the disabled and the elderly; infrastructure building and maintenance (streets and roads and highways, bridges, rail and air transport and travel systems, police and fire protection); the arts and religion and libraries and all the things that feed our souls; and the entertainment and vacations that restore us.

    To pretend that the care economy can be totally supported by private means is to be in denial.  It belongs to all and must be supported by all.

  • Mike Downing says:

    February 15, 2011 at 12:46 pm

    VERY well said Bernie!

    The liberal progressive sheep are denying the fact that the $6.2 Billion shortfall was artificially created with the proposed 26-27% spending increase by the previous DFL majority.

    Fortunately, the voters realized this and threw them out on 11/2/10!

  • WAYNE says:

    February 15, 2011 at 1:16 pm


  • Lee says:

    February 15, 2011 at 1:48 pm

    Start a yearly car, truck inspection each year to check: 2.pollution 4.state registration 5.license,other states already do this.This would create jobs throughout the state,clean up the air,make safer transportation,making sure we have cars etc. are from Mn   and insured.Also, with the fee, make money for the state!  Have school superintendents in schools serve more than one school districts,this would save all schools lots of money.Phase out the state school for Braille and Deaf.Cost per student is between 60-70 thousand.There aleady is a metro school for the deaf,and very few braille students.Share services in schools.

  • Gordy Grundeen says:

    February 15, 2011 at 9:22 pm

    Today, Obama said very succinctly “We (Democrats and Republicans) must start an ADULT conversation about our values”.

  • Francis Lemke says:

    February 15, 2011 at 9:54 pm

    Governor Pawlenty’s policy: no tax increases. But this was not the end result of 8 years of State belt tightening. Not at all because less State monies meant local property taxes for counties, school districts and municipalities all went up to compensate for the loss. He was penny wise and pound foolish. Governor Dayton needs a specific “Mission Statement”- what exactly should the State be involved with for its citizens? Education? Social Services? Health Care? Transportation? The environment? Ground, water and forest resources? The State needs to focus on a core of critical requirements and the rest should be laid aside, perhaps until better times. The State cannot be all things to all people.

  • Yi Li You says:

    February 16, 2011 at 2:18 am

    Efficient usage of Medicaid:

    1)  Ask MA, GAMC recipients to follow what MN Care program is doing: pay monthly premium, like $4.00.  These premiums are affordable, can help reduce some cost for State. But don’t cut down any coverage benefits.
    By asking recipient to pay premium, it can raise responsibility for them. Some recipients take medical benefits for granted. We want to help those low income people, but we also want them to value this opportunity. Don’t abuse it.

    2) For dental coverage for Medicaid, GAMC and MN Care recipients, I hope it can resume to what it was before 2003. Before 2003, all MN Care recipients can have regular cleaning twice a year, same as Medicaid recipients. But they pay 50% copay for restorative treatments, like: deep cleaning, root canal treatment, etc. I think these copays are affordable by recipients. But after 2003, MN Care recipients without children were cut off all dental coverage. They even cannot have regular dental cleaning. However since 2008, everything is recovered. all MN Care recipients, with and without children, can have all of the dental coverage without paying any copay, even for deep cleaning and root canal treatments. It lasts for 2 years. Hence, more budget deficit results.
      From Jan, 2010, state cut down dental care benefits even on Medicaid recipients:  all Medicaid and MN Care recipients can only have regular dental cleaning once a year, instead of twice a year. No one can have deep cleaning; and root canal treatments on back part of the mouth, unless they pay out of their pockets, which cost about $800 and $750 respectively. This cause many recipients to have gum disease, unnecessary extractions. Many patients have tooth infection, which cannot get treated by root canal and have to be extracted. Does denture be more expensive than root canal treatments? Do you know how many recipients are desperately waiting for the dental treatments?  State can ask them to pay copay: 30 to 50% of the cost. That will help reduce the cost for state.

    3) On the other hand, state should screen the existing Medicaid system: to avoid the abuse, and fraud of the Medicaid, e.g. screen those foster care, adult day care facilities. Some clients shouldn’t stay in foster care system any more. But group home, foster care homes, day programs don’t want clients to go. If clients left the system, it means these facilities will lose money from Medicaid.
      The same is true with senior adult day care Centers. Medical Assistance designate health plans to appropriate money to the facilities. It seems health plans give money 3 or 6 months ahead of times to the senior adult day centers once a client get approved, regardless if the client actually show up at the facility or not. Besides, has anyone thought how much state (Medicaid) spent on each senior recipient who attend the senior adult day care facilities?
      M.A. pays $66 for each senior per day for attending a senior adult day center. If one senior attend a senior adult day center 5 days per week, M.A. will pay him/her $1320 per month and $15,840.00 per year. This money M.A. paid for the senior for recreation and entertainment only, not for their medical necessities. The purpose of senior adult day center is to reduce isolation and to increase their social interaction of seniors who usually stay at home alone,
      But if any senior attends 2 to 3 days per week at a senior adult day center, it will be enough to serve the purpose. In fact, if a senior attends more than 3 days per week, he/she will be exhausted and become overweight and obese.
      But many Centers encourage seniors to ask for permission from case workers to come 5 days per week, so these centers can make more money from State.
      If Medicaid stipulates: any senior can attend a senior adult day care 3 days per week maximum, one senior will save $6,336.00 per year of the state’s Medicaid fund. There are hundreds, thousands, of senior adult day centers in MN, Think about it, how much money we can save?

    4) In the mean time, many applicants who are really need medical treatments (e.g. diabetes, high blood pressure, any surgeries that need hospitalization) cannot get approved for EMA (Emergency Medical Assistance, if they are LPR, under 65) which put these clients’ health in dangerous conditions.  Luckily, people who are LPR, above 65, if they have emergent medical condition, can get EMA. For those below 65, county workers keep sending them to SMERT for “disability review”, which not make sense at all. These people have emergent medical conditions. But they may not necessarily be disabled. They can do ADL’s independently. They just need medical treatments. Otherwise, they can risk of their lives.


  • Francis Lemke says:

    February 16, 2011 at 12:15 pm

    Health Care must include Dental Care. I don’t see anything wrong with co-pays like $3 or $5 or more for expensive procedures. Nobody should ride for free because it is NOT affordable at any level. People need to realize that not doing check-ups and cleanings only makes for bigger, more expensive problems later.

  • Bruce says:

    February 17, 2011 at 6:50 pm

    The “conservatives” and their followers are ideologues; they act from poorly conceived a priori principles rather than from concern with the consequences of their actions.
    So confronting them means speaking to the demands of justice and compassion embedded in our religious traditions and political and social heritage.  What is it about a camel passing through the eye of a needle don’t they understand?

  • Mike Downing says:

    February 19, 2011 at 3:06 pm


    Liberal progressives are idealogues who do not care about the consequences of your actions. Liberal progressives have been increasing government spending at a rate 2-5X the CPI for decades. Liberal progressive politicians have been making promises that can not be kept to simply get votes from your “victims”. You have been kicking the can down the street for our grandchildren to pay for your reckless spending habit.

    Fortunately, the taxpayers woke up to your spending addiction and voted you out of the majority in the MN House, the MN Senate and the US House last November 2nd.

    We, the taxpayers, will do the same for the US Senate on November 6, 2012. We will return our country back to our founding values & founding principles.

  • Bernice Vetsch says:

    February 20, 2011 at 2:29 pm

    Oh, Mike, I fear you have been misinformed.

    When Bill Clinton left office, he left a surplus of something like $5 trillion as a gift to George Bush.  Bush then used it (and untold billions more) to give tax breaks to the wealthy—who did NOT use the money to create jobs—and to invade a country that was of no danger to us.

    Approximately half of the Bush deficit was created by the tax cuts and the other half by the two wars he started without raising revenue to pay for them.

    President Obama has had to spend billions to bail out the Bad Banksters who created the economic disaster we are now living through ... good conservatives all.

  • Francis Lemke says:

    February 22, 2011 at 11:25 pm

        History shows that the GOP spends just as much as the Democrats and even more sometimes. Republicans especially like to spend for ‘Defense’ and war, which is craziness. Corporate welfare. Clinton left us a balanced budget and Bush blew it away with wars! We have been spending a trillion dollars per year on ‘Defense’ and war and Bush did not have the guts to raise taxes. So don’t blame deficits on Democrats!