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Let's have it: What do you want to say about the shutdown?

Let's have it: What do you want to say about the shutdown?
MinnPost photo by Terry Gydesen

As the shutdown loomed, I asked state employees how they were preparing at home and at work. Now the shutdown is here and I want to hear from everybody. All sides are angry, and I'm hearing much diversity in that anger. Some blame one side only; others blame both. Some are focused on mere inconveniences (vacation spots, roads); others on certain suffering (unemployment, suspended services). It's all important and part of Minnesota's new, if temporary, reality.

What's on your mind today? What do you want the politicians to hear? As always, I'll be reading what you write and pulling some of it up from the comments and into this post to create a living document of these first days of the shutdown.

One humble request: I'm looking for diversity of opinion. Share yours and speak as strongly as you need to. Argue where you feel you must. But please, no personal attacks. Let's get as many voices as we can into this thing.

Your voices (updated 7/5/11 at (9:00 AM):

Note: What you see here are excerpts I've chosen from the discussion flourishing in the comments section. Click on a commenter's name and you'll be taken to their full comment. There is much more in the comments and I hope what I share here will only drive you there to read more and to add your voice.

"We need a constitutional amendment so that the legislature can also call a special session, so that the governor can't hold the state hostage. Part of the deal is that all of the legislators, the governor, and all the constitutional officers should face serious personal financial penalties for each day the legislature is in special session."
- Mike Schumann

"The state is obliged to take in enough income to cover the cost of running government and providing the public services people require. Conservatives claim tax cuts create the jobs that provide the revenue.

"Why don't we take them up on their claim by creating a new state tax benefit for each "new" job created and maintained for at least a full tax year.

"But in the meantime, to 'encourage'wealthy conservatives to put their money where their mouths are, raise their taxes enough to balance the current budget. If the wealthy prefer creating jobs to paying higher taxes, then they'll put their financial feet to the proverbial pedals and get those new jobs on their books as soon as possible."
- Gerald Abrahamson

"If the GOP is so confident that it really is the will of the people that there not be an increase in income on the top 2% - ludicrous position in my opinion - then why not let the people decide in the next election?

"I am confident of the result. In fact, regardless of what happens, there WILL be a tax increase on high earners in the next legislative session."
- Bill Gleason

"As a recent college grad and a non-traditional student, after months of interviewing, I was about to be hired by a nonprofit company that provides support services to people with disabilities. It was the first job that had decent pay, decent hours and decent benefits. But, my employment hinged on whether or not the state shut down.

"That company is now scaling back services and will reconsider discontinuing ALL services in about three weeks. All healthcare graduates need background checks FIRST in order to work with any vulnerable adult or child. The state isn't processing them, and by law, the companies can't do them using an independent source. So, healthcare companies, including clinics and hospitals, can't hire new workers, and there will certainly be a need for people."
- LeAnn Santana

"Thousands of Minnesotans are not working today through no fault of their own. Hundreds of out-of-state guests are out of luck if they are in need of a rest stop. Thousands of people are inconvenienced and there is no clue when the shutdown will end. Yet, when Republican Senator Amy Koch was interviewed on KSTP today her last comment to Tom Hauser was 'I'm staying. I'm not going to the Lake.' If that is an example of GOP sacrifice, it's no wonder the government is shut down."
- Elaine Leach

"Other than my daughter not being able to get her driver's permit (this may be a good thing), I'm waiting to see how the shutdown will affect me and my family personally. I feel sorry for the folks who made plans to use the state parks, go to the MN Zoo and who may face a more difficult commute come Tuesday morning. I feel terrible for the displaced state workers.

"What ever happened to the idea public service and the common good? Al Quie and Arne Carlson were able to work with the DFL to fix budget problems and to look out for the long-term good of the state. We survived those crises when both sides made compromises. To fix this mess, most all of us will need to feel a bit of pain, be it some kind of service cuts or higher taxes."
- Scott Stocking

"I am convinced more than ever that the long and short term solution lies in a non-renewable consumption tax and moving away from an income tax to create a stable tax base. The DFL must get a tax skewed toward non-renewable resources and subsidies for the poor to remove the most regressive elements and the GOP gets a broad based consumption tax that creates investment incentives and does not tax income. Senators Bakk, Howe, and Miller have indicated a willingness to work on this and Governor Dayton is already listening but the GOP leadership may not be."
- Michael Bowler

"This morning's Strib had an article about the State of California passing and their governor signing a new law that would apply the State's sales tax to internet purchases in CA, even from companies that do not have a "brick and mortar presence" in that state.

"I wonder how much revenue MN could generate per year if it could EFFECTIVELY capture the 7%+ it now loses (via something like the new CA law) on all those internet transactions from non MN located companies like Amazon? "
- Paul Linnee

"I am a state employee. I and most of the colleagues with whom I work stand with the governor and are incredulous that the Republican lawmakers would use their roles as public servants in this manner. As public servants, we do not
and should not have the prerogative to purposefully postpone and then leave our work unfinished because we cannot compromise with other colleagues. Many of the rest of us take our responsibilities as stewards of the state's resources quite seriously and would never bring to our work a single-minded and self-identified approach to our work.

"Republicans have traditionally prided themselves on being good business-people but where are those principles now -- needs assessment, perspective-taking, context, science-based, balance, compromise, and KNOW WHO YOU SERVE.

"As Governor Dayton has been trying to communicate, Minnesota is a humane state. We value our citizens. All of them. We work TOGETHER for the common good.

"I cannot overstate my sentiments in saying that this is embarrassing and shameful and is tarnishing our state's reputation across the country and it will be decades before the voters of Minnesota forget that the blame lies at the feet of the conservative legislators."
- Department of Health employee

"Dayton needs to hang tough. If the republicans think they are representing what the people want,they are sorely mistaken. I do daycare for single moms, I am not getting paid for them while the government shuts down. You say "Don't take them then?" There is a fine for that!"
- Deb Reed

"The vast majority of Minnesotans will feel zero impact from the shutdown. The 'users' of government -- the non-profit sector for the most part, are impacted, the 'payers' are not. This is a classic battle of payers vs. users, and the payers are not gonna take it anymore."
-

"Getting a budget in place should occur at the start of session and be the guide for all else. That is how businesses operate [and] Minnesotans with their household budgets!"
- Tasha Coats

"My understanding of this conflict is that the GOP refuses to acknowledge an increase in state costs and Mark Dayton spearheads the defense for education and health care. What nobler causes are there? As for the GOP, they're fighting for tax cuts for the absolute wealthiest citizens.

"My perspective on this is colored. I've been traveling through SE Asia for the past half year, and I've seen tourists checking out rooms for $2,000/night, and villagers slicing up old bicycle inner tubes to strap their homes together. I have no compassion for people who need to preserve their billions of dollars in order to enjoy the most indulgent, wasteful, prideful things in life when the rest of the population needs education and health care. I fully support Dayton and hope he doesn't budge an inch."
-

"Rather than borrow money to fund the spending (the last GOP proposal, as I understand it) how about a temporary tax surcharge on top incomes that will expire after this budget? Then the Republicans can campaign to get a veto-proof majority for next time, the DFL can campaign that this is the right balance, and the next election decides."
- Steven Webster

"This government shutdown seems to be about people getting re-elected more than compromising and doing their jobs. No one wants to step away from the party lines and make an advancement toward compromise."
- Kathy Malloy

"The whole state will suffer, no matter who they are. Whether they are public employees or people in the private sector who rely on jobs (like contracts) through the state, we will all suffer. This is costly. No taxes will be paid while people are laid off. More people will be unable to pay their mortgages because they get no income; many people live from paycheck to paycheck, especially in this economy. The state is already suffering loss of revenue."
- Ginny Martin

"I hope that now that we have finally gotten to the point of a shut down, you can help people look a little further and see that the shut down is just a preview of the way that Minnesota was headed under the Republican proposed budget.  

"Yes I am unhappy about being told my work is non-essential, laid off and having to figure out how to live with a 50% family salary decrease, but I am tired of the shut down being portrayed as someone's camping trip cut short or having to find a restroom in a gas station on I35.  
 
"I am OK with a few weeks without pay if it would result in the general public actually looking at the budget that was vetoed and seeing how many of the cuts we are experiencing as part of the shutdown have a good chance of being permanent if the republican budget was enacted.  Yes, there are devastating projected  human impacts, but there is a huge potential impact to our natural resources as well.
 
"I want the people asked to leave the state parks and wondering why they can't get a fishing license today to actually have a thought of the state's role in protecting and managing our woods, wetlands, water and wildlife instead of just thinking about their own inconvenience."
- Joan, a state employee

"After the House and Senate go through a "cleansing" in 2012, Governor Dayton will be able to work with his Democratic houses. The GOP does not understand two (2) English words that require simple yet great skill: Negotiate and Compromise."
- Arnie Hillmann

"STOP paying Minnesota state sales tax. STOP paying Minnesota state income tax. If the government is shut down, we are getting nothing for our money. When these people who call themselves leaders are ready to sit around the table and negotiate in earnest and resolve their differences on behalf of the well-being of all Minnesotans, then and only then should all Minnesotans entrust their hard-earned money to them."
- Bonnie Hayskar

"According to a legislature mandated bi-annual study by the MN Dept. of Revenue, The 2011 MN Tax Incidence Study for the year 2008, the total tax burden including all state and local taxes, that is, income, property and consumption taxes, as a percentage of total personal income, was 11.5% for all categories of income, except for the top 10% for which it was 10.3%. Therefore, those of us in the lower 90% income categories are subsidizing those in the upper 10%. This regressive taxation is an embarrassment to many of us in the top 10%. I think Governor Dayton is simply trying to get the 10% to be at parity with the 90%. That is called proportional taxation. His phrase is "fair share" taxation. There seems to have been a quiet class war going on for the past three decades and the top 10% have clearly been winning that war in MN."
- Jim Jeffries

"Governor Dayton made a fatal mistake. He should have started negotiations with same absurd position the Republicans did. If he had stated six months ago that he would not allow for any cutbacks, and insisted that the entire shortfall be addressed through tax increases, then he and the Republican legislature would be starting from similarly ridiculous positions and they could have possibly compromised in the middle. But he foolishly started from the middle -- a position of reason and logic. Sadly the Republican legislature appears oblivious to reasoned compromise. For this, our once great state will pay a dear price."
- Scott Muggli

"Hopefully we will all remember the pain and frustration that we are feeling now when it is time to vote again this fall. Surely there must be more reasonable people in the state than those who currently occupy the offices in St. Paul? Is there no one left who loves Minnesota and takes pride in being from this worthy state?"
- Kris Felbeck

"The Republican approach only gets us more of what we already have: damage, destruction, and economic stagnation if not recession or depression. It is time to take Dayton's approach and begin moving back in the direction of the days when Minnesota was seen by the nation as 'Miraculous' and as 'the state that works.'"
- Greg Kapphahn

"This borrowing from other funds (i.e. schools) really has got to STOP! To me there's not much of a difference -- borrowing is borrowing. No more fudging to 'balance' the books, please!"
- Kristin Neises

"I was laid off from a stimulus-funded state job last September and am looking to go back into state employment because I had wonderful work helping people with their job search and education plans. Now as an unemployed person, the two main job sites I use are shut down and my dislocated worker program counselor is laid off because her employer isn't getting funding from the state. People who are currently unemployed and in dislocated worker programs are having resources taken away from them that help with the job search. It brings tears to my eyes to know that this situation is going on and most people don't know about it."
- Heather Isaacs

"I am personally not affected by the shutdown, at least not yet, but still angry that our governor and legislators are unable to come up with a solution to keep government running. They should all be locked in a room and not let out until they reach an agreement. Also start docking their pay everyday of the shutdown."
- Karla Thompson

"The fault lies with the GOP. They wasted time pressing their social issues. When they were finally forced to get down to working on and negotiating the budget they stuck to their stupid Grover Norquist no taxes mantra. And at the last hour, instead of negotiating faithfully, they used abortion, stem cell research and voter suppression bills as bargaining chips. They need to be voted out."
- Vicky Christensen, responding on Facebook

"I think the legislative rhetoric has gotten ahead of some of the facts. House and Senate leadership repeatedly talks about "runaway spending", "out-of-control government", and so forth in defense of their no-tax-hike position.

"But according to the official figures compiled by the State Office of Management and Budget, state and local spending as a proportion of personal income -- the "price of government" measure -- has been basically flat over the past decade.

"Government spending was 15.5 percent of personal income in FY 2002, hit a high of 16.2 percent in FY 2006, dropped to 15.7 percent for FY 2012, and is projected to fall to 14.9 percent by FY 2015.

"It wobbles a little bit up or down year to year, but is basically stable over time. Even with rising demands and growing infrastructure needs, the price of government in Minnesota is unexcitedly, even blandly, flat.

"So, in this current budget battle, can we cool the rhetoric and rest our debate on factual information?"
- Roger Brooks

"The shutdown is entirely predictable. Didn't we see it coming in November 2010? I certainly did. To those saying it is an embarrassment, I say to them: How many letters did you write to your legislators? Mostly the response has been: 'I don't even know who represents me.' That government doesn't work is a reflection of a population that refuses to engage."
- Joe Wenker, responding on Facebook

"We just came back from a dinner where the owner of the restaurant was deprived of his liquor license because of the shutdown [and] not completing paperwork before the closure. He said they would be alright for a month. Thankfully we are not in the ranks of those who are out of work, some permanently. I hope Dayton holds strong. He is right and they are wrong. Thankfully we have a governor who can act in integrity."
- Judy Gibson

"I was hoping for some compromise and was looking for both sides to work together better. Now I totally stand with Dayton after seeing what the legislature was asking for. Not only did they not move on HHS cuts, but they also wanted him to cave on all of the social issues. Not a serious negotiation at all. The GOP owns this shutdown completely."
- Darrell Gerber, responding on Facebook

"The positive side of the state shutdown is that people are thinking again about what's important to them personally. As much as people like blast the government, one should consider what our state would look like if it weren't for government. What would the kitchen of a restaurant look like? What would the deli look like where we purchase our picnic foods at the grocery stores? Would we have sex offenders working with our children because we don't do background checks? The quality of life that we have here in Minnesota is pretty darn good. The Boundary Waters are Spectacular, the state parks are pristine, the lakes are blue, the air is clean, our elderly are cared for -- what's wrong with that?"
- Mary Schnell

"Good for us, we got exactly what we deserve! Hopefully at the next election there will have been a lesson learned here and Minnesota will again become that beautiful shade of blue."
- Scott Anderson, responding on Facebook

"Is anyone surprised that government programs and services are shut down when they elect people to office who run on "small government" platforms? This is what it looks like when the size of the government is reduced."
- Krista Menzel, responding on Facebook

"Unfortunately he Republicans allowed their true agenda to be exposed when they threw a bunch of ideological policy issues on the table. That says it all for me; pure ideology/politics, not what's best for MN."
- Patti Klugherz

"I am appalled that Republicans will not even consider an increase in the tax rate for the top 2% of income earners in this state. The MN Department of Revenue released a report a few months ago indicating that the top 10% of MN income earners have an effective tax rate of 10.3% and the rest of us an effective tax rate of 12.3%. The Republicans have that information and still oppose a tax increase on the top 2%. 



"We need to keep in mind that this budget crisis was created by Republicans: Pawlenty, who refused to compromise during his eight years in office and work with Democrats to create a budget that didn't get by on shell games, and the current Republican legislature, that will not compromise on anything. Remember that in 2012.



"The Republicans will try to engineer another budget crisis for 2013, so that they can once again push their agenda of lower taxes and cutting funding. They will do this every budget cycle, because for Republicans, a budget crisis is a political and economical tool. Remember that, too, when you go to the polls in 2012."
- Brian Duren

"I do pay the top income tax rate - quite willingly I might add. But I also choose to live a modest life style - a nice home but certainly less than what I could afford if I so choose, careful about my consumption, frugal with my investments, and spend far more on the education of my children than I do on anything else.

"As a result of these choices, I do, indeed, pay a smaller percentage of my overall income in state and local taxes. But don't say I don't pay my fair share. I pay exactly what I should pay based on the choices that I make.

"So I am OK if the case can be made that spending $34 billion is not enough to run the state during these troubling times. But lets do it the MN way by having everyone pitch in - by adding a temporary tax surcharge to all income. I have a higher income - so I will pay more actual dollars. I am OK with that since everyone who is able to earn an income is contributing to the solution.

"And as a very staunch, conservative Republican, I will be the first to badger my legislator to vote in favor of such a plan."
- Tim Milner

"In these politically polarized times, it seems that the overwhelming majority of our elected officials in both parties have drawn the perversely counterproductive conclusion that shutting down Minnesota's state government -- and preparing to blame their opponents later -- is less painful than compromising with each other in time to keep this government working for all Minnesotans. I don't believe that's the way it feels to the rest of us, particularly if we have to pay the price for our politicians' failure to do their jobs."
- Eric Paul Jacobsen

"We should have a constitutional amendment requiring an passable budget by the legislature's mandated adjournment. Penalty for failure is that EVERY legislator of a failed session is immediately required to stand for election in the November immediately following."
- Chris Reynolds

Beth Hawkins: It's unclear what shutdown will mean for some school programs
MinnPOTUS: Could Minnesota shutdown hurt Pawlenty?

Earlier: Government shutdown starts early -- and ugly
Related: Text of Gov. Mark Dayton's shutdown announcement
Christian Science Monitor: State shutdown mirrors larger US debate

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Comments (60)

It is clear that the top 2% of the Wealthiest Minnesotans will not feel the pain of a government shutdown anymore than they would notice a modest tax increase. Recalcitrant idealogues have replaced real political leaders and they will ruin Minnesota if we let them. Governor Dayton is right. In the long run, the Republican plans will be much more damaging to this State than a shutdown. Republicans need to back away from their no tax pledge.

This government shutdown seems to be about people getting re-elected more than compromising and doing their jobs. No one wants to step away from the party lines and make an advancement toward compromise. If they propose something outside the strict party message they risk re-election dollars. Maybe term limits are the only answer to MN's problems and on the federal level as well.

I think the spending side has been cut enough in the proposals on the table. Rather than borrow money to fund the spending (the last GOP proposal as I understand it) how about a temporary tax surcharge on top incomes, that will expire after this budget. Then the Republicans can campaign to get a veto-proof majority for next time, the DFL can campaign that this is the right balance, and the next election decides.

I say to the GOP, enough with the accounting tricks and it's time to quit borrowing from our school districts! They are already owed 1 billion dollars from the Pawlenty disaster. Do your jobs, reach a compromise like the politicians and adults you supposedly are.

The detached observer must note with wry humor that this shut-down should occur on the one weekend in which state parks would be high in demand.

My understanding of this conflict is that the GOP refuses to acknowledge an increase in state costs and Mark Dayton spearheads the defense for education and health care. What nobler causes are there? As for the GOP, they're fighting for tax cuts for the absolute wealthiest citizens.

My perspective on this is colored. I've been traveling through SE Asia for the past half year, and I've seen tourists checking out rooms for US$2,000/night, and villagers slicing up old bicycle inner tubes to strap their homes together. I have no compassion for people who need to preserve their billions of dollars in order to enjoy the most indulgent, wasteful, prideful things in life when the rest of the population needs education and health care. I fully support Dayton and hope he doesn't budge an inch.

As a side note, now the Tea Partiers and Libertarians get to see how well life functions without government. It's a real learning opportunity for everyone.

I need to say what is and has been on my mind these past few weeks with all the discussion around the budget. These politicans know from the start of the session resolving the budget is their number one task. Yet, they waste months of the session on other tasks, leaving the very last few weeks to really hone in on the budget task. And they can't get it done. It is their job - the job that we all voted these people to be have and yet they do not prioritize and get the most important issues resolved before tackling the lesser important tasks. If real businesses operated that way, most, if not all, would surely fail. Getting a budget in place should occur at the start of session and be the guide for all else. That is how not only businesses operate but so do the Minnesotans with their household budgets! My words to those in state office - get it done now!

The vast majority of Minnesotan's will feel zero impact from the shutdown - a fact the media, unions, and politicians do not 'get'

The 'users' of government - the non-profit sector for the most part, are impacted, the 'payers'are not. This is a classic battle of payers vs users - and the payers are not gonna take it anymore...

Gov. Dayton needs to hang tough. If the republicans think they are representing what the people want,they are sorely mistaken. Yes, we have spent too much, why don't they go after the silly things Minnesota pays for? (pickle studies?) If 2% tax increase for the rich is too much then, 1% in good faith! I know anyone having their taxes raised will not be happy, but whom can afford it more? (the wealth,which the many congress people are)
Programs to help the poor, the seniors, the single moms (having no help from the fathers) should not have to suffer!
People cannot afford insurance, (I have it, and it is eating me alive)plus the Government (federal) needs to work on the new healthcare plan more, but that takes some time.
I do daycare for single moms, I am not getting paid for them while the government shuts down. You say "Don't take them then?" There is a fine for that!
Nursing homes... I hope that these republicans have a mom that is turned out onto the street with the rest!!
I also think that there should be NO PAY for Democrats or Republicans till this is settled!
It will take concessions on BOTH SIDES REpublicans!! I hope the public is listening and reading, because we sure screwed up when we elected the republicans, they can't or don't comprehend well!!!!!!!!!

I am convinced more than ever that the long and short term solution lies in a non-renewable consumption tax and moving away from an income tax to create a stable tax base. The DFL must get a tax skewed toward non-renewable resources and subsidies for the poor to remove the most regressive elements and the GOP gets a broad based consumption tax that creates investment incentives and does not tax income. Senators Bakk, Howe, and Miller have indicated a willingness to work on this and Governor Dayton is already listening but the GOP leadership may not be.

Other than my daughter not being able to get her driver's permit (this may be a good thing), I'm waiting to see how the shutdown will affect me and my family personally. I feel sorry for the folks who made plans to use the state parks, go to the MN Zoo and who may face a more difficult commute come Tuesday morning. I feel terrible for the displaced state workers.

I want to echo Kathy Malloy's comment #1. What ever happened to the idea public service and the common good? Al Quie and Arne Carlson were able to work with the DFL to fix budget problems and to look out for the long-term good of the state. We survived those crises when both sides made compromises. To fix this mess, most all of us will need to feel a bit of pain, be it some kind of service cuts or higher taxes.

Where's her sacrifice?
Thousands of Minnesotans are not working today through no fault of their own. Hundreds of out-of-state guests are out of luck if they are in need of a Rest Stop. Thousands of people are inconvenienced and there is no clue when the shutdown will end. Yet, when Republican Senator Amy Koch was interviewed on KSTP today her last comment to Tom Hauser on the 11 a.m. news was "I'm staying. I'm not going to the Lake." If that is an example of GOP sacrifice, it's no wonder the government is shut down.

I love Steven #2's idea.

As a recent college grad and a non-traditional student, after months of interviewing, I was about to be hired by a nonprofit company that provides support services to people with disabilities. It was the first job that had decent pay, decent hours and decent benefits. But, my employment hinged on whether or not the state shut down.

That company is now scaling back services and will reconsider discontinuing ALL services in about three weeks. All healthcare graduates need background checks FIRST in order to work with any vulnerable adult or child. The state isn't processing them, and by law, the companies can't do them using an independent source. So, healthcare companies, including clinics and hospitals, can't hire new workers, and there will certainly be a need for people.

I look at the ads today and the number of employment ads is reduced to about a tenth of what they were a week ago. The pay is also reduced - in some cases, sub-minimum wage is being offered. Benefits? What benefits?! Thanks to the GOP, from all the people who were looking for jobs, and were close to getting one, that were hard to get in the first place. Now, it's next to impossible.

I support Steven Webster's suggestion.

If the GOP is so confident that it really is the will of the people that there not be an increase in income on the top 2% - ludicrous position in my opinion - then why not let the people decide in the next election?

I am confident of the result. In fact, regardless of what happens, there WILL be a tax increase on high earners in the next legislative session.

Minnesota was once a great state in which to live and can be so again.

The state is obliged to take in enough income to cover the cost of running government and providing the public services people require. Conservatives claim tax cuts create the jobs that provide the revenue.

Why don't we take them up on their claim by creating a new state tax benefit for each "new" job created and maintained for at least a full tax year.

But in the meantime, to "encourage" wealthy conservatives to put their money where their mouths are, raise their taxes enough to balance the current budget. If the wealthy prefer creating jobs to paying higher taxes, then they'll put their financial feet to the proverbial pedals and get those new jobs on their books (documenting their "Investment in Minnesota") as soon as possible.

Only added jobs would be eligible for the tax benefit. Fraud is readily detected because employers are already required to submit identification information of each employee in order to properly credit taxes withheld by the employer for each employee. Audits would prevent claims for the benefit from dodges such as simply transferring jobs between companies or doing fire/rehire.

The state will receive a variety of taxes from the new employees to offset the benefits issued to those wealthy job creators (the variety of payroll taxes, increased sales tax revenues from their purchasing power, additional personal income taxes from those previously not employed, etc). It also guards against taxes on the wealthy held too low based solely on the *hope* they would create jobs here.

The budget is balanced! Arguing now shifts to questions of implementation: The amount of the tax benefit? How much should taxes go up on the wealthy who don't create jobs? The benefit is limited, say for 2-4 years, then ends for each new job created. This eliminates long-term welfare for the wealthy.

And "We, the people," can then get on with our lives.

If the wealthy do create additional jobs, they will be rewarded with tax benefits, tapping in to the definition of a "business friendly" environment.

If they don't create jobs, that's their choice. The state will still be financially sound. They will simply pay more in taxes here for their choice to create jobs elsewhere--or nowhere. That seems like a pretty fair business proposition for everyone.

1. No more accounting tricks. We need an honest balanced budget. I agree with the Republicans that we need to draw the line at a 0% actual spending increase over last year. However, I'm not opposed to a tax increase to pay for the accounting gimmicks that were used to balance prior year's budgets.

2. There should be an IMMEDIATE special session to pass all of the spending appropriations over which there is no disagreement. We need to quite the political game of holding hostage stuff that everyone agrees on to force the other side to pass stuff they don't want. Every line item should be voted on individually on its own merits.

3. We need a constitutional amendment so that the legislature can also call a special session, so that the governor can't hold the state hostage. Part of the deal is that all of the legislators, the governor, and all the constitutional officers should face serious personal financial penalties for each day the legislature is in special session.

4. The state parks, HOV lanes, etc should be immediately reopened. Just because you don't have employees working there, doesn't mean that the public can't enjoy these existing facilities. People will just have to step up and volunteer to clean their own toilets. Don't hold the people of MN hostage because of this political squabble.

This morning's Strib had an article about the State of California passing and their governor signing a new law that would apply the State's sales tax to internet purchases in CA, even from companies that do not have a "brick and mortar presence" in that state.

1. I thought there was some federal law that prohibited the states from "taxing the internet", yet the article implied that 8 or so are doing it now.

2. I "know a guy" who just bought a $600 HDTV from Amazon.com, and didn't have to pay any MN Sales tax on the Amazon transaction, thereby denying MN about $43.50 in sales tax revenues. I think I heard that our tax is really a "sales and use" tax, and that this "guy I know" is supposed to track and pay the MN 'sales and use tax' anyway, even though Amazon didn't capture it. But it seems unlikely that he (or many others) would actually do that.

3. I wonder how much revenue MN could generate per year if it could EFFECTIVELY capture the 7%+ it now loses (via something like the new CA law) on all those internet transactions from non MN located companies like Amazon?

4. Further, assume the number just happened to be something in the range of the $2 billion over 2 years that the Guv wants to bring in in 'new revenues'. Do you think the GOP would actually resist EFFECTIVELY capturing sales and use tax revenue that current state law says SHOULD BE PAID ALREADY? Who could argue against that?

Am I missing something here?

Also, I am in total agreement with the comment by Steven Webster @ #2 above. Good idea.

Michael, what you do not "get" is that the whole state will suffer, no matter who they are. Whether they are public employees or people in the private sector who rely on jobs (like contracts) through the state, we will all suffer. This is costly. No taxes will be paid while people are laid off. More people will be unable to pay their mortgages because they get no income; many people live from paycheck to paycheck, especially in this economy. The state is already suffering loss of revenue. I think the loss to state coffers from state parks is about $1 million a week, plus the ruined vacations and weekends and family time.
This is all for an "expensive" principle that is ridiculous at best: no new taxes. A government is a necessity and we have to pay for its services. Who is in the best position to pay but the rich?

Kathy, term limits won't help this issue at all. Most of the no-compromise people are newcomers who have had little or no experience in politics. That's part of the problem: they do not understand what politics is all about, which is at the very least compromise.
What we need at both the state and local levels are experienced politicians who understand how to do government, not newcomers with fantasy ideas about "principles" and obstinancy.

After the House and Senate go through a "cleansing" in 2012, Governor Dayton will be able to work with his Democratic houses. The GOP does not understand two (2) English words that require simple yet great skill.

Negotiate and Compromise

STOP paying Minnesota state sales tax. STOP paying Minnesota state income tax. If the government is shut down, we are getting nothing for our money. When these people who call themselves leaders are ready to sit around the table and negotiate in earnest and resolve their differences on behalf of the well-being of all Minnesotans, then and only then should all Minnesotans entrust their hard-earned money to them. Any lawyers out there who can tell us how to do this? And tell me again why the Legislature is still getting paid?

According to a legislature mandated bi-annual study by the MN Dept. of Revenue, The 2011 MN Tax Incidence Study for the year 2008, the total tax burden including all state and local taxes, that is, income, property and consumption taxes, as a percentage of total personal income, was 11.5% for all categories of income, except for the top 10% for which it was 10.3%. Therefore, those of us in the lower 90% income categories are subsidizing those in the upper 10%. This regressive taxation is an embarrassment to many of us in the top 10%. I think Governor Dayton is simply trying to get the 10% to be at parity with the 90%. That is called proportional taxation. His phrase is "fair share" taxation. When I moved to this wonderful state 34 years ago, I believe our taxation was progressive where, the overall tax burden percentage rose a bit as incomes rose rather than decline as it does now. There seems to have been a quiet class war going on for the past three decades and the top 10% having clearly been winning that war in MN.

Governor Dayton made a fatal mistake. He should have started negotiations with same intransient and absurb position the Republicans did. If he had stated 6 months ago that he would not allow for any cutbacks, "not one penny in spending reductions", and insist that the entire shortfall be addressed through tax increases, then he and the Republican legislature would be starting from similarly ridiculous positions and they could have possibly compromised in the middle. But he foolishly started from the middle--a position of reason and logic. Sadly the Republican legislature appears oblivious to reasoned compromise. For this, our once great State will pay a dear price.

We are traveling in Oregon right now, and I was impressed to hear on NPR this morning that the Oregon legislature adjourned on time, having balanced their budget AND come to an agreement on redistricting both at the state and federal levels, and then embarrassed to hear that Minnesota had shut down, unable to accomplish either task. Hopefully we will all remember the pain and frustration that we are feeling now when it is time to vote again this fall. Surely there must be more reasonable people in the state than those who currently occupy the offices in St Paul? Is there no one left who loves Minnesota and takes pride in being from this worthy state?

Thanks for nailing the quiet class warfare issue #21. Although it hasn't been so quiet.

Since the days of Ronald Reagan, the rich have sought to sell the idea of tax cuts for themselves to the rest of us with the claim that they'd invest all that money they'd save on taxes into the development of US business and industry,...

And that the result would be SUCH AMAZING GROWTH that those tax cuts would pay for themselves and lead to greater prosperity and better jobs for all Americans.

Those ideas took hold in Minnesota under Jessie Ventura more than ten years ago with the Moe/Swiggum/Ventura tax compromise that gave us the "Jessie Checks" rebates as a smokescreen so that the average citizens wouldn't notice that that same compromise also involved a huge tax cut to our state's wealthiest citizens.

Of course the opposite of their promises of prosperity has turned out to be the case: the richest of the rich have pocketed millions of additional income with increases that vastly dwarfed the stagnating or even shrinking incomes of the middle class,...

then used that money to buy sufficient political power to change the rules of real estate, business, and finance in ways that allowed them to make billions more, through sleight of hand and flim-flam,...

leading to the great financial crash and necessitating that the general public bail them out to prevent a complete banking collapse (while they, themselves, were not asked to sacrifice, nor held responsible in any way).

At the same time many of those same members of the general public were now losing their houses to foreclosure because they were coerced into buying their homes at grossly inflated prices using mortgages designed specifically to rip them off,...

arranged by mortgage brokers whom those same rule changes allowed to take their money from all that flim-flam and, with complete impunity, run away with it and keep it, even if the borrower never made a single payment on their mortgage.

All of that provides the backdrop for the course our Republican friends in Minnesota are still so desperately trying to run.

Despite all evidence to the contrary, they still believe that pursuing the same course that has already brought destruction and even death to our state's citizens is actually the ticket to making Minnesota into heaven on earth.

They've been proven wrong over the past thirty years, but being "true believers" they are impervious to the massive amounts of evidence stacked up against them.

The Republican approach only gets us more of what we already have: damage, destruction, and economic stagnation if not recession or depression.

It is time to take Gov. Dayton's approach and begin moving back in the direction of the days when Minnesota was seen by the nation as "Miraculous" and as "the state that works."

If that violates some peoples' "principles" perhaps they need to go back to school and learn the lessons required to base their ideas and ideals on reality and actual math instead of trying to force the rest of us to go along with their dysfunctional need to continue to do the same things that have already been proven NOT to work.

Over a thousand employees at Canterbury Park have been put out of work not to mention trainers and backside personel numbering in the several hundred. The travesty in this is that the track is entirely self supporting and has already paid the $450,000 cost to cover the services of the Minnesorta Racing Commission through the end of July. It is NOT dependent on state money to operate. Yet the state is keeping the money without rendering the services paid for. Judge Kathleen Gearin seems to feel that racing is a non-essential service and needs to be closed. That would be understandable if this were not a private business. The racing industry is in the middle of the racing meet and the horsemen are justified in leaving to go to other tracks that are open to support their business. Because of the cost of moving horses, equipment, and personel, once moved they will not come back to run for some of the lowest purses in the country. And very likely, next year there won't be a track or facility of any kind to come back to. Closing Canterbury over a technicality is nothing short of a disaster for the Minnesota racing industry. And Minnesota will be losing a statewide industry worth over $2 billion in annual economic activity and countless jobs in the supporting dependency businesses. No one can afford to wait it out long enough to restart a meet at Canterbury. It will be too late.

Jeff, if you want to be considered "live," ya just got to update. Or automate--if you are not interested.

Started to watch politics closely in 2006. Eye opening experience, ever since one President candidate chirped "I'm In" back in January 2006 for an election almost 2 years away and before billions of bucks collected by the wannabes.
In 2010 state election, had no choice but to vote for state representation by indivduals promising to keep MN budget in line with revenue coming in, not spending hoped for revenue. MN has had a spending problem every budget since at least 2007, and every even year the Govenor has had to call the Legislators back to find additional revenue to meet their unsustainable spending in the budget.
If Governor Dayton raises taxes on the rich this year, where does the needed revenue come from next year, and for the next budget in 2013.

Let's also remember this won't affect only the state employees, but potentially those of us on the fringe who rely on the civil courts. It's a lot easier (and frankly, way less painful) to squeeze another 2% from those high wage earners who just may have to forego a luxury item than others who have to scrimp to buy meds/food. And this borrowing from other funds (ie schools) really has got to STOP! To me there's not much of a difference - borrowing is borrowing. No more fudging to "balance" the books, please!

Ronnie Reagan would be so proud of our Minnesota legislators on the right (wrong!) side of the aisle. They took his words of non-wisdom to heart, and the state will suffer the consequences.

I was laid off from a stimulus-funded state job last September and am looking to go back into state employment because I had wonderful work helping people with their job search and education plans. Now as an unemployed person, I have a harder time looking for jobs because the two main job sites I use are shut down, and my dislocated worker program couselor is laid off because her employer(nonprofit) isn't getting funding from the state Dislocated Worker program. So people who are currently unemployed and in Dislocated Worker programs are having resources taken away from them that help with the job search. This means they can't get training which may help land a new job, or professional advice on their resumes and job search strategies, or just having someone listen to their fears. It also means laid off people who could be eligible for Dislocated Worker programs can't apply for potential enrollment. It brings tears to my eyes to know that this situation is going on and most people don't know about it.

My MNPERA.org pension "annuity" was direct deposited right on schedule Friday morning. I bought my July licence tabs a month early so I'm basically "good to go" for another month.

BTW: Someone should get a picture of one of those lottery billboards. Yesterday I saw one on 35W Northbound just north of the Hennepin Avenue overpass (about a mile or two north on new 35W Mississippi bridge.) The billboard had the top caption "What's your dream". On the left side it has "Powerball" and "Megga Millions" logos with electronic displays of current jackpots. The electronic displays were shut off last night.

I am personally not affected by the shutdown, at lesat not yet, but still angry that our governor and legislators are unable to come up with a solution to keep government running. They should all be locked in a room and not let out until they reach an agreement. Also start docking their pay everyday of the shutdown.

I think the legislative rhetoric has gotten ahead of some of the facts. House and Senate leadership repeatedly talks about "runaway spending", "out-of-control government", and so forth in defense of their no-tax-hike position.

But according to the official figures compiled by the State Office of Management and Budget, state and local spending as a proportion of personal income--the "price of government" measure--has been basically flat over the past decade.

Government spending was 15.5 percent of personal income in FY 2002, hit a high of 16.2 percent in FY 2006, dropped to 15.7 percent for FY 2012, and is projected to fall to 14.9 percent by FY 2015.

It wobbles a little bit up or down year to year, but is basically stable over time. Even with rising demands and growing infrastructure needs, the price of government in Minnesota is unexcitedly, even blandly, flat.

See the report: http://www.mmb.state.mn.us/doc/budget/report-pog/nov10.pdf

So, in this current budget battle, can we cool the rhetoric and rest our debate on factual information?

The 2011 MN Tax Incidence Study for the year 2008, the total tax burden including all state and local taxes, that is, income, property and consumption taxes, as a percentage of total personal income, was 11.5% for all categories of income, except for the top 10% for which it was 10.3%.
=========

This is my biggest complaint. I do pay the top income tax rate - quite willingly I might add.

But I also choose to live a modest life style - a nice home but certainly less than what I could afford if I so choose, careful about my consumption, frugal with my investments, and spend far more on the education of my children than I do on anything else.

As a result of these choices, I do, indeed, pay a smaller percentage of my overall income in state and local taxes.

But don't say I don't pay my fair share. I pay exactly what I should pay based on the choices that I make.

So I am OK if the case can be made that spending $34 billion is not enough to run the state during these troubling times. But lets do it the MN way by having everyone pitch in - by adding a temporary tax surcharge to all income. I have a higher income - so I will pay more actual dollars. I am OK with that since everyone who is able to earn an income is contributing to the solution.

And as a very staunch, conservative Republican, I will be the first to badger my legislator to vote in favor of such a plan.

For the average Joe and Jill, it really does seem like our money has undergone The Rapture - it swirled around a bunch, and then disappeared, upwards.

As with 1929 and other previous crashes, the super-rich have gathered unto themselves too much of our money. This cripples our economy.

Meanwhile, I'm sure we are all delighted with the state Republican Party's "laser-like focus on jobs, jobs, jobs." And perhaps somewhat less so with their insistence on the Governor's signing off on their social agenda as part of the budget negotiations.

We just came back from a dinner where the owner of the restaurant was deprived of his liquor license because of the shutdown.. not completing paperwork before the closure. He said they would be alright for a month.... Thankfully we are not in the ranks of those who are out of work, some permanently. Yet, the Republicans refuse to tax 7,700 millionaires a tiny bot more to end the shutdown. I hope Dayton holds strong. He is right and they are wrong. Thankfully we have a governor who can act in integrity.

# 34: Tim: I'd be interested in hearing how long you've lived in Minnesota. And I'd be interested in hearing how long you've been at the level of income where you've been paying the top income tax rate.

My point being, you could have lived in Mississippi, Texas or Florida, which does not tax income at all. Unless you're the beneficiary of a trust fund, your income is still a function of income earned or deferred during a few very productive years and for many of us, how that works out for each of us is very much a crap shoot. As I understand the philosophy of "very staunch, conservative Republicans" who are leading this shutdown, by whatever means you came by your good fortune, it's yours, and you have no obligation to look back or pay back or forward. I take from your comment that you don't buy that so take another look at what you're being sold.

#27: Q.: where do the revenues for the following biennium come from? A.: From the people who make as much as #34 unless we adopt his suggestion of a 1 time surcharge.

I am so utterly horrified by the state of our state and our nation, that I’m not even sure that words can express it. Although, intellectually, I understand that starting in the late 70s there was a concerted effort by “conservatives” and the Chamber of Commerce to reverse the gains made by “common” people and the “commons” – what gall, that anyone would challenge the power of the powerful and demand clean air and water, living wages and a voice in the workplace and the nation. We obviously had to be stopped. But it still horrifies me that anyone with an ounce of intelligence or integrity or compassion, can spout the same old same old lies that the powerful have propagated to maintain their power, like our Legislators have, and pretend that they are anything other than lies.

Luckily for me, I’ll no doubt be dead before the worst of the whirlwind is reaped – or, at least, I comfort myself with thinking that. But I can’t help but weep, nearly every day, for the loved ones I’ll leave behind. In the world that Reaganomics and Clintonomics and the Tea Party is building, where the only “good” is wealth, and getting wealthier, where “free trade” trumps even the most basic of national and socieital interests, where corporations have all the rights of human beings and none of the responsibilities, and where education and compassion are priced out of the market, being smart and frugal and brave will not be enough. And that’s about all that anyone in my family has ever had. From now on, you’ll either be born to money or you'll be born to work for slave wages. Welcome to the 19th Century, one more time. The "Conservative" paradise.

And I still just don't understand why anyone sane would ever want to go there.

#34 Call him/her. I'm in. But, let's make the surcharge, at least, progressive. I, at least, am willing to pay more so that my less fortunate neighbors can pay less. We all know where all the wealth and income increases have gone for the last 30 years. The poor may always be with us, but let's not make them pay as much for the privilege, huh?

What do I think about it? Disgraceful. To think that Minnesota was once known by all as an exceptional state....

The Rs should hang their heads in shame...except that they're complete strangers to it.

"I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial by strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country." Thomas Jefferson. Thank you Governor Dayton for standing by our founding principles.

http://www.winonadailynews.com/news/local/article_d949dfaa-ad74-11de-99c...

Minnesota among highest in welfare spending

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Welfare spending in Minnesota is among the highest in the nation, according to new census figures, and it's been growing steadily for more than 10 years due to the rising cost of providing health care for the needy.
Nearly 23 percent of all state and local government spending in Minnesota during fiscal 2007 went toward services that fall under the Census Bureau's broad definition of welfare, according to the 2007 Census of Govern-ment Finances. Among states, that ranked behind only Maine at 24.3 percent and Rhode Island at 23.7 percent.
It was a higher share of spending than Wisconsin, 18.2 percent; Iowa, 16.6 percent; North Dakota,
15.7 percent; and South Dakota, 15.5 percent.

Read more: http://www.winonadailynews.com/news/local/article_d949dfaa-ad74-11de-99c...

Jim #21
You have given a very clear, short explanation of Minnesota's current tax laws and the issue of fairness. On both a state and national level the rich and corporations have seen large reductions in their taxes over the past half century, which have contributed to the financial problems we now face in this country.

The positive side of the state shutdown is that people are "thinking" again about what's important to them persoanlly. As much as people like blast the "government" one should consider what our state would look like if it's weren't for Government. If there were no restictions on fishing, logging, industry, services for people and the aged, roads and building... think of the many ways those who only want to make money could take advantage of us. Would anything be safe? What would the kitchen of a restaurant look like? What would the deli look like where we purchase our picnic foods at the grocery stores? Would we have sex offenders working with our childrn because we don't do background checks? The quality of life that we have here in Minnesota is pretty darn good. The Boundary Waters are Spectacular, the state parks are pristine, the lakes are blue, the air is clean - our elderly are cared for... what's wrong with that? In Minnesota we have high standards for doing business. I say "equalize taxes" on the wealthiest Minnesotan's and lets continue to keep our high standards in the best state in the Union.

We are now seeing the direct results of candidate subservience to a non-resident controller, the "No New Taxes" lobby for the ultra rich. Do you really think that Grover cares about Minnesota residents who will suffer as a reslt of legislators refusing to raise even the smallest amount of revenue from the least affected of our citizens? The Republicans should be thrown out for idiocy and inabilitiy to figure out who their constituents are. I suspect that Grover and his group are laughing up a storm while our citizens suffer.

This ought to do it if closing parks and cancelling construction don't...

MINNESOTA LIQUOR SHUTDOWN - dry summer coming
KSTP-TV reports this morning that liquor stores and bars have to obtain permits from the state to buy more liquor when they run out. They will not "legally" be able to refill shelves. However state does have inspectors working who will catch them if they try - as some stores are doing.

Anyone want to join me for a run to the corner store at 10 AM?

#37 Jon

My entire 51 years. I was the very 1st in my family to graduate from college. My father was a laborer who sacrificed to help me do that. My wife worked her way through college - we met in Chemistry lab. We both went on to professional degree - again working and paying for it along the way - while raising 4 children.

I took the financial risk to start up a manufacturing related business in 1993. Did not even draw a salary for several years. I currently employee 60+ people, all with livable wages, all with health care benefits. We made it through the recession - with my wife and I funding the business losses so that we could keep the people employed.

It's not a high margin business - we are lucky to make 5-10% after taxes. Last year, our business property tax was nearly 25% of our net income!! ($80,000 up from $18,000 12 years ago!!)

My customers compete against overseas firms for business. Can't tell you how much business I have lost over the last few years - we have to be 500% more efficient to be cost competitive to their low labor and material costs. But I work at it and so do my employees!!

Business volume is improving, but I have not hired anyone yet. There is so much uncertainty (economy, health care, taxes, etc) that I just am not sure if I can afford it.

There are a LOT of people like me in MN. We need policies that are not only fair, but even more important, predictable, so that we can continue to try and grow our businesses so that we can pay and hire people. That will be the only way out of this economic mess.

Gregory, What's your point? That Minnesota is too compassionate? That we do care about our vulnerable citizens, although other states do not? That we believe in taking care of our own--those people who for one reason or another need help. Disabled. In poverty. Veterans. That we should not care for deaf and blind citizens? That we shouldn't coddle the public with rest areas? How about closing the shelters for abused women trying to get away from their husbands? (

bikemiles #42, is there a point in there somewhere? Sounds like Minnesota is still one of the more compassionate states in the union. Of course, if you don't like that you could always move to a low tax state like, say, Mississippi.

Can I help you pack?

I am semi-retired. I teach part-time as an adjunct faculty member at a college in the TC. During the summer, I spend most of my days reading and writing. I will not be deeply affected by the shutdown. There are however a lot of very vulnerable people who will be, and I feel deeply the pain they're going to endure. 



There is greater disparity today between the wealthy and the rest of us in this country than at any other time since the years leading up to the Great Depression. There is greater disparity between the wealthy and the rest of society in this country than in any other developed country in the world. The policies that Koch and the Republicans want to implement will deepen that divide.



I am appalled that Republicans will not even consider an increase in the tax rate for the top 2% of income earners in this state. The MN Department of Revenue released a report a few months ago indicating that the top 10% of MN income earners have an effective tax rate of 10.3% and the rest of us an effective tax rate of 12.3%. The Republicans have that information and still oppose a tax increase on the top 2%. 



We need to keep in mind that this budget crisis was created by Republicans: Pawlenty, who refused to compromise during his eight years in office and work with Democrats to create a budget that didn't get by on shell games, and the current Republican legislature, that will not compromise on anything. Remember that in 2012.



The Republicans will try to engineer another budget crisis for 2013, so that they can once again push their agenda of lower taxes and cutting funding. They will do this every budget cycle, because for Republicans, a budget crisis is a political and economical tool. Remember that, too, when you go to the polls in 2012.

FTA: "Everybody's Mad"...I'm not bad at Governor Trust Fund, he only knows one note. "More taxes!" I'm not mad at the R's...they were elected to majorities in both houses for the first time in 45 years to pursue a "Cut Spending" agenda! I AM mad at only one person in Minnesota.......Tom Horner!! Thanks a lot Tom! Without you we'd be enjoying a spending cut and a resurgent Minnesota economy this holiday weekend!

I plan to send the following letter, with as many signatures as I can gather among my friends and neighbors, to my Minnesota state representative.

"With this letter, we, the undersigned, propose to amend the Minnesota Constitution.

Whenever a state budget is not passed on time, due to disagreement between the executive and the legislature, there will be two consequences:

1. Special elections for the office of the governor and every legislator in both the House and the Senate will be scheduled to take place in 30 days.

2. The previous budget will be automatically renewed, with two adjustments: proportional increases in taxes and expenditures for inflation, and one additional appropriation to pay for the special elections."

This proposal combines my own idea (automatic renewal of the previous budget) with Jody Rooney's even better idea (give the voters a chance to throw the bums out).

Several other MinnPosters have expressed concern that this constitutional firewall against future government shutdowns would (further) slow down the legislative process, because the consequences for executive and legislative inaction on the budget would not be immediately disastrous, as they are now. After some reflection, I believe there is nothing about the modified proposal above that gives politicians any greater incentive to stick to the status quo than they already have. Indeed, I believe that the prospect (or threat) of a slightly increased, but otherwise unchanged budget, combined with the need to prepare for an election in 30 days (giving them scant opportunity to "spin" their collective failure), would provide politicians with a stronger incentive to improve the budget than the threat (or prospect) of a government shutdown, which seems not to worry them nearly as much as it should.

In these politically polarized times, it seems that the overwhelming majority of our elected officials in both parties have drawn the perversely counterproductive conclusion that shutting down Minnesota's state government - and preparing to blame their opponents later - is less painful than compromising with each other in time to keep this government working for all Minnesotans. I don't believe that's the way it feels to the rest of us, particularly if we have to pay the price for our politicians' failure to do their jobs.

If the Minnesota Constitution were amended as recommended above, I believe our elected officials would start to see the consequences of their inaction on the budget the way we, the voters, do. If they failed to see it, we wouldn't have to suffer another government shutdown. Instead, we would all promptly get the chance to express our disappointment with our elected officials in the strongest and most effective way.

How come is no one in the media reporting on the relationship of these Republican legislators with the Koch brothers and 'Americans for Koch Prosperity'? This is the major issue of this shutdown, since these Republican legislators are following in lockstep the Koch brothers' marching orders. Yet there is no one in the media that either sees this or has the courage to report on it. Why not?

A Different Kind of Government Shutdown

So our beloved State of Minnesota, “Land of 10,000 Lakes,” has shut down over budget disagreements. No doubt the powers-that-be will be shilly-shallying and shuffling papers to come up with budget proposals that are agreeable to all involved. The sad thing is that, most likely, during this time of money matters and balanced spreadsheets, the more important issues will be ignored; business as usual I guess one could say.

While the shutdown is a result of either too much money or not enough money from millionaires, depending on your point-of-view, it seems like a closing of the government’s doors is way overdue for a different reason. That is to say, the State of Minnesota, “The Star of the North,” is morally bankrupt, which should be reason enough to silence the lawmakers.

Minnesota’s residents bemoan every angle of the shut down because money is involved. Even some of the most compassionate, caring people argue for or against the government shut down. The posturing, editorializing and whining are not without merit or reason. However, when the government does get back up and running, chances are the same people will still be disenfranchised and the status quo will be, well, the status quo.

The time is now for the citizens of Minnesota, while the State’s governing body is on pause, to ask our elected officials to take the time to listen to the people that matter. If the representatives truly want to reevaluate the budget, it is morally unconscionable to ignore the voices of the people who are and will be affected by any new budget. These are the same people who are regularly and routinely ignored; the elected officials have nothing but time right now to sit down, shut their mouths, listen and act.

Prison inmates, some of whom are innocent, most of whom are political pawns and all of whom matter should directly have a say in how they are punished and the conditions under which they are punished. The uninsured’s fears about health care can now adequately be heard and then tended to. The mentally ill and their advocates can examine all new budget proposals and put themselves and their needs first, ahead of any corporate lobbyist or business owner.

The voices of the Native American communities, the homeless, the poor, GLBT individuals, women who need access to abortion anywhere in the State and many others groups continually ignored, and who need to be heard, are now victims of our State government’s budget woes and worse yet, casualties from the immorality of our State’s laws and wrong priorities. This immorality is not defined by some Supreme Being’s code of rules, rather the reading of a messed up moral compass which fails to put humanity and people’s present condition as the primary guide.

People matter, not money. Sure, there needs to be a plan for how our money is spent. However, even with a budget, a State that continues to ignore so many of its citizens is in a perpetual state of bankruptcy, a condition no banker or set of budget talks can fix. So bring on the spreadsheets and dollar signs, but if people really matter most, then I’m afraid a bankruptcy of another kind, a moral bankruptcy, is necessary and long overdue.

Updated: January 5, 2011 - 4:10 PM
Census numbers, just in time for today's talking points, say MN welfare spending at 37% (updated)

http://www.startribune.com/politics/blogs/112933714.html

Just as a debate on Minnesota health care spending rushes in at the Capitol, the Census Bureau offered some numbers to prime the pump.
"State government spending on public welfare was greater than 30 percent of general expenditures in 11 states, led by Minnesota (37.5 percent)," the government numbers bureau said in a news release Wednesday.
The numbers come from the Census' report on State Government Finances. Dig in to the numbers here. http://www.census.gov/govs/state/
Worth noting: Although the Capitol debate Wednesday will focus on DFL Gov. Mark Dayton, Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty was in charge when the numbers rose.
(This post has been corrected to reflect that the 37.5 percent is a total percentage of spending. The state department of human services also says: "there are health care costs included in the definition of public welfare used by the Census Bureau that we don't account for in the same way in the state budget.")

On the subject of constitutional amendments to encourage/require good governance:

We should have a const. amendment requiring an passable budget by the legislatures mandated adjournment. Penalty for failure is that EVERY legislator of a failed session is immediately required to stand for election in the November immediately following.

Either they work out a deal that the governor will sign, or they work out a deal that is acceptable enough to be veto proof, in the time already alloted by law. Otherwise they face the consequences.

When will the 7,700 Minnesotans with annual incomes $1,000,000 or higher step up and say,"Do it; we can afford to pay the same tax rate as people who earn far less annually"?

In a democracy, the people get what they deserve.

This shutdown falls totally on the Republicans. They came into office and said they would do it, if the Democrats and the Governor did not cave into everything. While they say they are against any additional taxes, they draw the line at any additional taxes on the upper 7700. Unless that is accepted upfront they refuse to negotiate anything else.

That is an absolutely certain way to stalemate any set of negotiations, to demand a precondition that is not only unacceptable but yields nearly any other point up front as well. Dayton is absolutely correct to oppose it. They tried the exact same thing in 2005, but were successfully opposed that time by a Democratic Senate.

Democrats have to oppose the precondition or they yield everything else right along with it.

Who owns whom here? Sounds to me like a racket and something that should be investigated as racketeering.