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Tuesday Talk: What is Minnesota’s legislative priority?

December 28, 2010 By Joe Sheeran, Communications Director

A collapsing dome, inflating deficits, crumbling infrastructure and underfunded schools are among the many issues facing legislators as they settle in for a new session in St. Paul. With a Republican legislative majority and a Democratic governor, compromises won’t come easy.

Considering that challenge, what do you think should be Minnesota’s legislative priority?

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


  • Jim Weygand says:

    December 28, 2010 at 9:58 am

    Our first priority should be to stabilize the State’s Economic situation. This means increasing taxes, and looking for ways to make State and local governments more efficient in providing services.

    They also need improve investment in our State so that Minnesota is again a job creation region. This means investment in infrastructure, our k-12 schools and our University system.

    They also have to address how to meet the needs of our changing population to prevent economic disaster down the road.

  • Mike Downing says:

    December 28, 2010 at 10:41 am

    The #1 legislative priority must be to balance the budget to the forecasted revenue increase of 5%.

    To increase spending beyond a 5% increase is fiscally irresponsible and will only make MN less competitive with states that are growing jobs, growing their population and growing their economy.

    Increasing spending beyond 5% with tax increases will ensure a population decrease and a loss of one Representative after the 2020 census.

  • Marie Failinger says:

    December 28, 2010 at 11:01 am

    It is not popular to say this in a time of economic stagnation, but it must be said:  Minnesota needs to return to its commitment to caring for the poorest and most vulnerable citizens.  There is no excuse for anyone being homeless, without food to feed his/her family, or without the means to preserve his or her health in this state, except by his/her choice. There is no excuse for the significant high school dropout rate among minority teens.  Whether a commitment to these citizens means cutting other services and amenities, reducing human services/education bureaucracy to pay for direct services, or raising taxes selectively and appropriately is something for careful study and deliberation, but without that core commitment, everything else we may gain as a state is meaningless.

  • Mary Beth Blegen says:

    December 28, 2010 at 11:17 am

    We need a commitment to work for Minnesota and her people, instead of for an ideological ‘victory’.  We need movement toward balance…balance between new taxes and cutting, between providing and maintaining, between intelligent conversation and enthusiastic passion.  Oh, how I wish it were all possible in the next couple of years!

  • Ginny says:

    December 28, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    You are absolutely right, and what’s more, helps fuel the economy as well as helping the most desperate.

  • Ginny says:

    December 28, 2010 at 12:38 pm

    Another comment that hits the target.

  • D. May says:

    December 28, 2010 at 1:02 pm

    underfunded schools

  • John says:

    December 28, 2010 at 1:11 pm

    The State needs to stabilize its revenue stream.  Addressing the sales tax boogeyman and stabilizing tax relief (incorrectly labeled LGA) would be a good start.

  • Gary Thompson says:

    December 28, 2010 at 1:25 pm

    Education and health care, especially for the neediest, should be our highest priority.  This is an idea to get more revenue and a good share can be from out of state.
    Star Tribune                                           12-28-2010"Vikings Stadium

    “Vikings Stadium
    Let’s create a plan that benefits Minnesotans

    There’s a way for a new Vikings stadium to pass in the Legislature. The Vikings, NFL and large corporations should put up half of the stadium cost. Minnesota taxpayers can contribute the other half.

    Financing can come from taxes on sports memorabilia and clothing, hospitality and lodging, liquor and car rental tax in the metro area, the sale of special license plates, or a new lottery game. A cigarette fee increase could also help.

    The caveat is that only half of this revenue would be for the Vikings stadium. The rest would be split evenly as contributions to education and health care.

    This would be a win-win situation for everybody.

    GARY THOMPSON, St. Paul”

  • Ginny says:

    December 28, 2010 at 1:40 pm

    My earlier brief comment refers to Mary Beth Blegen’s remarks.
    The most important issue is funding education, from early childhood through university and college. It is one thing that we know spurs a prosperous economy.
    We are falling well behind other countries, a disaster in this global and competitive economy. We cannot afford this sort of ignorance and poorly educated people.
    It’s even a security issue, when young men and women are rejected because of poor educational abilities.

  • W. D. (Bill) Hamm says:

    December 28, 2010 at 2:47 pm

    This isn’t nearly as hard a task as some make it out to be if we just “keep it simple stupid”; first we balance the budget the same way we all have to do, with no shifts or gimicks. Education is claming that it is aproximately 30% short of needed funds. Amazingly that is almost exactly what the sports budget is in most of our schools. What we need is pyed for all kids not sports for the elite. The second leading cause of brain trauma, right behind auto acidents, is sports it also follows that the second leading cause of death to these children is sports not guns. since we are sacrificing many more of our children to our sports addiction than the Aztecs did, it is time we reconsidered this costly form of entertainment and put our sports addiction machine back in the hands of the sports addicts to pay for as a community effort not an education effort. If we also return all control to the local level and eliminate 90+% of the State Dept. of Ed. (Children Families and Learning) leaving only the economy of scale purchasing we can save billions. Then there is economic developement; as long as we rely on polititians to do economic developement we will continue to fail, the I.R.R.B. in my area of Northern Minnesota is a fine example of how we can throw away millions on failed project after failed project based on political whims. The next thing is a simple and fair flat tax system with a low end cut off with job creation and charitable giving deductions on the rich end. We can create a Cooperative Health care system again with the majority of power at the local level with the State again only providing economy of scale purchasing. Last we have the “Drug War” dominated criminal justice system where we warehouse the mentally ill and cemically dependent at 3 to 5 times what it would cost to treat them. Of course this will mean drastic reductions of public employees in the criminal justice system as well as ending it’s long spree as a so called growth industry that has only grown our deficiet and done nothing to fix or cure either of these problems.

  • W. D. (Bill) Hamm says:

    December 28, 2010 at 3:30 pm

    Mr. Gary Thompson, if you think for one second that your going to in any way tap our pockets here in Northern Minnesota or the rest of outstate to pay for your sports addiction via a new stadium you are seriously mistaken. Those are WAR words, dig deep in your own pockets city boy and stay out of ours. The fact is you haven’t payed for what you have nor are we seeing any figures that tell us the truth about the inflated operating and repair costs of that Dome and other facilities you have now.

  • Gary thompson says:

    December 28, 2010 at 4:34 pm

    Mr. Hamm,

    The taxes would be in the metropolitan area and if you reread my note, I said a good share can be from “out of the state.”  This is that pertaining to travel and lodging, rental cars, etc. 

    This is a good way to get revenue for education and health care for the needy.

  • Mike Downing says:

    December 28, 2010 at 5:01 pm


    Do you really think there are any out state Vikings fans left? The Vikings have to produce a better product before anyone is going to support them again.

  • W. D. (Bill) Hamm says:

    December 28, 2010 at 5:09 pm

    Gary you better reread your own words. You spoke of increased cigarett taxes and increase gambling revenues as well which both reach into rural pockets. This is an old battle and you very well know it. Coming up with a new scheme doesn’t change anything. Undermining our society with more gambling fixes nothing but instead only leaves us with a whole different set of negative issues.

  • Ginny says:

    December 28, 2010 at 8:20 pm

    Hamm: Do you think insulting other commenters strengthens your argument?
    When I see an insult in place of reasoned discourse, I quit reading.
    You provide no evidence for any of your statements.
    And for the 800th time, you cannot manage the state or federal budget the way a family does, and I wish people who do not know that or understand that would stop using that metaphor and go read some more economic stuff.

  • W. D. (Bill) Hamm says:

    December 28, 2010 at 9:33 pm

    What triggered you this time Ginny, the old addige “keep it simple stupid”? While you are somewhat correct in saying that there are extenuating circumstances in government operations, they are not applicable to the majority of Government financing. Things like snow storms and other natural disaters can alter budgets, but we can predict much of that and hold reserves rather than continuously operating without reserves. The fact is that most of the budget can be managed just like individual or buisnes budgets. This is especially true if we begin to move away from the Socialist centralization of power model that has consistantly undermined local input since at least the early 60’s in this present downhill spiral we are in. Much like education, turning power and control over to educrats has not produced better governance. The fact is it has and is undermining the foundation of our republic. The bigger our government becomes the more unmanageable it becomes and the further away from realistic needs of real people it becomes. Socialism doesn’t work Ginny in a country our size, but totalitarianizm does and that is where we are headed.

  • Mike Downing says:

    December 29, 2010 at 11:51 am


    You are absolutely and fundamentally incorrect on your economic analysis. State budgets are absolutely the same as family budgets where you must match spending to revenue estimates.

    MN has become less competitive to other states due to our tax burden. MN is no longer increasing in population. Jobs are growing in more competitive states and the population move to those more competitive states. Look at the 2010 preliminary census results to confirm this.

    You are mistaking federal budgets with state budgets. Only the federal gov’t can run deficits, print money, sell treasuries to China, etc. to burden our grandchildren. States must balance their budgets and compete with other states.

  • Mike Downing says:

    December 29, 2010 at 11:53 am

    Bill Hamm: WELL SAID!!!!!

  • W. D. (Bill) Hamm says:

    December 29, 2010 at 2:01 pm

    Thanks Mike, Ginny like many public employees has a hard time understanding the concept of downsizing. We in the private sector side mearly take it with a grain of salt and move on. There is no such thing as a sacred right by public employees to keep their jobs by mearly further draining our pockets. It gets right back to the self seving, “White Collar”, public employee, elitism I continually oppose.

  • Bernie Bauhof says:

    December 29, 2010 at 2:56 pm

    We sell product to many government agencies at all levels. My business peaks at the end of government fiscal years. We are often told by the customer that they have money left in their budget and need to spend it or they will not receive similar funding for the next budget cycle. Government bureaucracies are inherently inefficient and have no incentive to improve efficiency or reduce costs. The private sector can more easily control costs by reducing the workforce when necessary but civil service protection stifles the government’s effort to adapt or change.

  • Ginny says:

    December 29, 2010 at 4:21 pm

    Let’s try a few factws here: First, I don’t know why you keep insisting I’m a public employee. I am not. I have worked in the private sector much longer than in the public, and let me tell you, I’ll compare the efficiency of private to pubnlic any day. The waste I saw in almost all private companies was pernicious, irresponsible, and partly the result of ignorance and lack of discipline—or lack of discipline for the wrong reasons.
    The whole taxes of MN is much more complex. MN residents pay the 2nd highest state tax in the country, but if you total up all the sources of income—local governments, including counties, cities, townships, and school districts—and measure it as a percentage of income, Minnesota’s local taxes are lower than in most other states. in fact, Minnesota ranks 32nd in local taxes per capita.
    As for business and corporate taxes, the top statutory corporate tax rate is only a partial measure. It does not take into account the generous depreciation rules, exemptions, deductions, and credits (sometimes loopholes”) that corporations may be eligible for.
    Minnesota’s effective business tax rate for 2009 was 4.3 percent. That compares with 8.2 percent for North Dakota, 4.9 percent for South Dakota and 4.6 percent each for Iowa and Wisconsin. The national rate was 4.7 percent.
    There’s much more on this subject but these are a few facts to set the record straight.
    As for losing population—only the southern and western states grew by very much. Every other state lost population.
    That loss has nothing whatsoever to do with taxes.
    You could look it up.
    These are facts, as opposed to generalities based on no evidence.


  • Mike Downing says:

    December 29, 2010 at 4:44 pm

    Bernie Bauhof: Well said! I experienced the same during my career.

    Additionally, my father was a procurement officer. He was the busiest in August & September when they had to prepare POs to spend their allocated budget in order “not to waste it”! Private industry would have returned this as profit and a better return for stockholders.

  • Mike Downing says:

    December 29, 2010 at 4:55 pm


    I worked for 3M Health Care for 32 years. 3M has always made the top 10 best managed companies in the country. I have NEVER seen one public sector example of being more efficient than 3M.

    You liberal progressives use Medicare as an example of gov’t efficiency. Have you seen the geographic disparities in Medicare (just “Google” it if you know what a search engine is). You will find the Medicare cost in Miami to be over $14,000/Medicare patient but only $6700/Medicare patient in the Twin Cities. What private sector company would accept this unacceptable geographic disparity?

    Name the company that is less efficient than gov’t and send letters to the editor stating the facts that support your wild ass comments. The stockholders and board of directors would be very interested your “facts”.

  • W. D. (Bill) Hamm says:

    December 29, 2010 at 5:37 pm

    Actually, in Ginny’s defense, there are examples of inefiecent run private company contracts. The are called “Cost Plus Contracts” issued by the government to large Companies like Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Haliburton, and KBR just to name a few. When you realize they are overseen by public employees based on political favoritism you quickly understand that it is a cooperative effort between public employees, polititions, and private contractors to rip off we the tax payers. We also had a wood pellet program during the Perpich administration that payed subsidies to private companies to produce those pellets. The problem was if they turned a profit they lost their subsidy. I was a maintenance forman at one of these plants that intentionally operated so as to never turned a profit.

  • Ginny says:

    December 29, 2010 at 6:44 pm

    See facts re Minnesota’s tax burden.

  • Mike Downing says:

    December 29, 2010 at 7:19 pm

    Bill Hamm: Good examples of gov’t inducing companies to be inefficient on their gov’t set of books while being very profitable for shareholders!

  • Ginny says:

    December 30, 2010 at 2:39 pm

    There is a striking difference between the responses of men and women who respond to these articles, and this one is a prime example. The women take people’s lives into account. The men talk money, statistics.
    This is not a universal phenomenon. I see plenty of comments by men who are concerned over people’s lives, and some by women who talk about money. But there is a pattern.

  • W. D. (Bill) Hamm says:

    December 30, 2010 at 7:09 pm

    Now we have something we can agree on Ginny, men and woman think differently. We do so because of fundamental difference in the way our brains have developed from the point where our sexual developement begins. It has much to do whit why men are generally larger and more agressive than women, a result of potentially millions of years of evolution. Bringing us to the present day problem within the DFL and the dominent position the feminist dominated Teachers unions and several othe White Collar public union elements now have. It is very much the reason no DFL endorsed Gubenetorial candidate has been succesfull in over 30 years, and it has a great deal to do with the gridlock we have observed getting worse for years. While I am a supporter of equity, I absolutely do not believe we can ever achieve any realistic definition of equality between the sexes. Differnt hormones and genetic conditioning produce it. We men have to do the hunting so we want the food to last as long as posible, while you women want everbody to be able to eat as much as they want. The argument is as onl as history.

  • Mike Downing says:

    December 31, 2010 at 8:08 am

    Very perceptive Ginny.

    Women tend to be right brain dominated and therefore think & act from a feeling or emotion basis. This is programmed in their DNA & promotes “gathering” activities & relationships. These are things that are not easily measured.

    Men tend to be left brain dominated and therefore think & act from a facts & data basis. This is programmed in their DNA & promote “hunting” & competitive activities. These are things that are easily measured.

    Women would say we need to educate our children with no monetary constraints. Men would would say we need to educate our children but measure the outcomes and modify the process to maximize the outcome and minimize the expense.

    Of course there are exceptions to this pattern…........

  • W. D. (Bill) Hamm says:

    December 31, 2010 at 1:36 pm

    While your explanation is much more eliquant than mine Mike, I have a little trouble with that “right brain”, “left brain” psyco ballble stuff. Although I did take creative fiction writing in High School.

  • Gary thompson says:

    December 31, 2010 at 3:55 pm

    Hamm, “men are generally larger and more aggressive than women…”  Well well, guess who started the recent misguided wars in the Middle East, based on not letting the facts get in the way.  There was a time when working men dominated the unions, but the wealthy men, who don’t let facts get in the way, busted that and this is the downfall of the middle class in our country.  Don’t get me started about shipping jobs overseas and moving alleged corporate headquarters off shore, factors which also are ruining the middle class. 

    Its a no brainer about who you prefer, men and women who “are concerned about people’s lives”, or women and men who “talk about money” (as if they had a lot), but usually vote against their own economic interests.

    I choose the first.  It is what most good Christians would do.

    Happy New Year everybody!!   

  • W. D. (Bill) Hamm says:

    December 31, 2010 at 9:53 pm

    Well Gary, all the biggest meglomaniac leaders in history have been male. In the last 100 years atiestic male dictators have killed over 100 million people. Does it follow that we should therefore kill all male children at birth to prevent this problem? Keeping only a chosen few for breeding purposes. Hollywood allready did that film. Johnson gave us Vietnam, Bush gave us Iraq and Afganistan shouldn’t we hate them equally as good Christians? I supported sending 100,000 feminists to Iraq and daring Saddam to harm so much as one of them, but nobody listens to me. I was somewhat vindicated when an Iranian feminist told the world that was what was needed to transform Iran. As for emotional based dection making, thats very socialist of you but I’m not giving up on factual based decition making any time in the forseable future. People who follow emotional based decition making find themselves supporting things like “Guided Study” for the autistic that have no factual basis in the real word. Gary, is your favorite color pink?

  • Ginny says:

    January 1, 2011 at 11:55 am

    We can even begin to see with special imaging techniques how the brain works. I don’t think any respected scientist questions right brain - left brain divisions or considers them “psyco ballble stuff. Although I did take creative fiction writing in High School” Hamm says.
    I don’t know what your taking fiction writing in high school shows. Maybe that you should have continued into college and learned a bunch of other stuff as well.
    Evolution continues. There are more highly evolved people among us, and there will continue to be more. We are not stuck with roles as hunters and gatherers. Each of us in our way continues (or not) evolution. I wish I could be around for the next 100 or so years to see how that works out (if we survive all of our attempts to blow ourselves up or heat the planet to uninhabitable. It is a much more dangerous world than it was even 50 years ago, and

  • Ginny says:

    January 1, 2011 at 12:41 pm

    I think you’re making fun of things you know nothing about. What do you know about treating and healing with autistic children? Have you studied this?
    “Socialist based” decision making results from emotional based decisions? You gave me my laugh for the day.
    Are genes do not dictate our behavior and actions. We can and do modify our behavior all the time to fit in with our culture. Iraqis or Iranians do not have in their DNA the need to stone women who are accused of adultery. Or let young girls burn to death in a school building because they didn’t have their burkas on.
    We learn—often by our emotions and the behavior that results. We have to learn or we’d all be back grunting at each other and killing other tribes for the fun of it (or is that what we’re doing now in Iraq, Afghanistan.
    Lastly, you cannot separate fact based decisions from emotion based decisions. They intertwine and feed on each other; one informs the other. What do “facts” tell you to do in a given situation? Nothing. It depends on your emotionally based beliefs and agendas. No facts need apply—and often don’t

  • W. D. (Bill) Hamm says:

    January 1, 2011 at 1:09 pm

    Wellll, that turned the discussion around didn’t it Ginny. I especially love that “Progresive” stuff about “Higher evolved individuals”, we are ever so glad to have them doing our thinking for us, NOT. These are the same kind of more inteligent people who brought us eugenics as the solution to the population problem. Of course with them making the decitions as to who lives and who doesn’t, (wasn’t that very left brain of me not to use the word DIES). The problem is you higher evolved individuals just found new ways to kill us of the 62% off. You chose slow death via legal drug addiction and chemical nuetering of our children to acomplish your same old goals. It’s the drug Companies fault not yours right, even when your participating in the process. I don’t buy for one second that your college degree in any way makes you a more evolved individual any more than our ancestors 2-3 generations ago did when the “Wizard of Oz” was made.

  • W. D. (Bill) Hamm says:

    January 1, 2011 at 1:49 pm

    I didn’t say I question the brain differance we call “Right Brain”, “Left Brain”, the fact is we have had a clear understanding of it a long time before we officially dedicated this bit of selective language to describe it. In fact it is kind of an insult to we the peasants it is directed at. You have to understand I was here before that addition to our vocabulary. It was a way for radical feminists to acknowledge what we already know without having to admit they were wrong. Just describe it as something else. In reality, almost all, left handed people do most of their thinking with one half of their brain and right handers with the other. It is a very misleading bit of terminology.

  • W. D. (Bill) Hamm says:

    January 3, 2011 at 6:21 am

    Guided Study for the Autistic goes back to the early 1990’s, or for you Ginny, about the same time we started addicting poor male children to ADHD drugs here in Minnesota. The difference is that a parent watching a demonstration of this program on their child realized the rediculasness of the effort and demanded double blind studies. The double blind studies proved conclusively that the system did not work at anything but making the guides feel emotionally good about themselves. Still it took almost 2 years for those delusionally involved to end the program. Much the same is true of ADHD now, no independent double blind study has ever confirmed the medical benifiets of addicting very young children to amphetamines, a solution that results in the sterilization of up to 8% of these boys. Worse than that, we know that addiction should be the last choice for children, (acording to the experts), not the first choice as it is now so administrators can get extra Federal funding for their schools.

  • Mike Downing says:

    January 7, 2011 at 9:18 pm


    I read the book which demonstrated via FTIR scans that boys & girls learn differently and actually do better in same sex classes.

    Teachers used to teach with a bias to boys. That has changed but the pendulum has swung all the way to favor girls as evidenced by high school graduation rates as well as college enrollment.

    The fact is we need the science to persuade educators to teach both boys & girls to reach their full potential.

  • Mike Downing says:

    January 8, 2011 at 7:54 pm

    Bill, it’s factually supported by FTIR brain scans. So it’s just a little more than psycho-babble. grin