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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

Despite Deficit: Raise the Gas Tax

Category: Minnesota Politics
Posted: 12/01/07 16:31

by Dave Mindeman

So, we have jobs disappearing and we have a budget deficit. Going into the 2008 session, the Republicans will be quick to warn everyone..."Now is not the time to raise taxes".

But that warning sounds distinctly similar to the warning we get when we have a surplus. "Now is not the time to raise taxes. It will kill a growing economy."

So, we hold onto the status quo during economic growth... and we cut everything in sight during economic stagnation. Government gets smaller and Republicans are happy.

The problem is, we have infrastructure that doesn't get fixed. Our schools ask for levy upon levy. And health care continues to climb out of control with more people uninsured.

Our problem is that state revenue is completely tied to economic growth. Sales taxes and income taxes go up and down and the economic swings cause correlating fluctuations in our budget projections. We need a more stable picture.

Any solution would take several major changes but, today let's start by talking about transportation:

One of the first things we should do is to get our transportation funding in order. The gas tax must be raised. Now this is a tax that unfortunately, hits the middle class, but we have to start somewhere. In addition, we should probably tie all related sales taxes that correspond to vehicles (tires, repairs, car and truck sales, etcl) to the transportation department. In that manner, vehicle consumption expenses would be funding the maintenance of the highways and transit. The goal would be to make it a more stable funding mechanism. It would still be subject to some of the economic swings but vehicle use consumption is something everyone uses fairly consistently.

Then, when some special projects come up outside of our usual road and transit budgets.... we can put in requests for the bonding bill. These would be special projects rather than the Seifert mechanism of funding all maintenance via bonding which reduces available funds for other special needs.

We have got to change how our budget system works. Revenue needs to meet our needs in a more stable manner and not become a political football...making everyone the loser.


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Nick Coleman Has Questions - We All Have Questions

Posted: 11/30/07 12:22

by Dave Mindeman

Nick Coleman has some questions for Carol Molnau. It's too bad he has to ask them from his column rather than being granted an interview.

But the questions keep coming and the answers seem shrouded in secrecy. This department needs changes.... big changes; mostly at the top.

But, if we do start to get some of Nick Coleman's questions answered, I'd like to add a few more:

1) What exactly was Sonia Morphew Pitt's job? What was it she was supposed to be doing? besides traveling a lot?

2) Inspection reports indicated that roller bearings that releived stress from heat and weight were unusable. Did MnDOT ever consider replacing them?

3) Carol Molnau headed the department while still a part of the Governor's administration as Lt. Governor. Isn't that a conflict of interest when MnDOT budget requests need to be addressed? How does Molnau separate her responsibilities to the department from her loyalties to administration policy?

4) How well can we expect light rail authorizations to be carried out when Molnau has been a life long opponent and is in a budget squeeze?

5) Sonia Morphew Pitt headed the Homeland Security and Emergency Management Dept. What does this department do and what is the annual budget?

6) Molnau and McFarlin said that the Crosstown bidding process, in which contractors were asked to use their own money for financing, is done in other parts of the country. If so, give some examples and were any of those projects as large as the Crosstown?

7) How was the bidding process for the new bridge construction arrived at? Who determined the extra criteria beyond money and time?

8) If the NTSB investigation is a fully independent one, why is it that the firm hired by the administration has become a virtual partner with full participation? yet, none of the lawyers for the victims can get the same access?

Questions...questions...questions.

I would hope that if the Senate takes up Molnau's confirmation next year, that they will take the opportunity to ask them all.
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Re: Mark Ritchie -- GOP Pushing the Envelope

Category: Minnesota Politics
Posted: 11/29/07 21:49, Edited: 11/29/07 23:51

by Dave Mindeman

As usual the Minnesota Republicans are pushing the envelope on making a point. Mark Ritchie may have made a mistake but for the GOP to request Ritchie to step aside for the special election???? what a crock.

I also found it a little ironic that Sen. Chris Gerlach should be the one quoted:

?This is not meant to be punitive, this is not meant to be another round of gotcha politics. This is meant to be a balanced measure, a fair and reasonable response to real concerns about a serious issue.?

Translation: This IS punitive....and we gotcha big time! Maybe we can ramp up this "reasonable" response into a big enough pile of bull that we can squeak out another win.

The reason I find Gerlach's voice ironic is that 4 years ago, he was the winner in a special election in Apple Valley. For some mysterious reason, Kiffmeyer's Secretary of State site, that helped you find your polling place, shut completely down. After some frantic calls we learned that there was a "computer glitch".... everything was fixed....but it was after the polls closed. Of course, this was merely a coincidence, I'm sure, but still has a touch of irony. The vote wasn't close enough for this to make any difference, but it was still a bit of an oddity..... and we will leave it at that.

Frankly, if the GOP state party would be thinking more clearly, they would want Ritchie to be completely involved. He is going to make certain that nothing goes wrong -- because he knows everybody is watching.

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