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A Layman's Suggestion For A MN Budget Solution

Category: Economy
Posted: 05/13/15 09:47

by Dave Mindeman

Look, people, I think there is an 80% chance that we have a special session over the budget. And a 70% chance of a partial shutdown. The two sides are just so far apart, it looks impossible.

So, you won't read it, or look at it..and you may even laugh at it, but here are some suggestions for compromise.

1. First of all, two billion dollars in tax cuts is just ridiculous on its face. If House GOP wants tax cuts so bad, then go with the tax credit for regular Minnesotans. It sunsets after two years and will give the GOP a talking point on giving some of the surplus back. But the business property tax cut and the estate tax cut are just too ludicrous for words. Why should business who profits from property use get a cut, while the rest of us who simply live on our property make up the difference? And the estate tax deal only affects a handful of rich people. What's the point?

2. Although universal Pre-K is the ideal and hopefully the longer term goal, targeted scholarships for low income students is acceptable.

3. MinnesotaCare should be off the table. Period. But if the House wants those other $300 million in cuts - then please, use some real numbers. The phantom number that is proposed cannot be negotiated because no one seems to know where it resides.

4. In transportation, maybe the DFL should cut the gas tax request in half and then use the House proposal to take a portion of the surplus for transportation. (Get rid of the revenue shift to only roads and bridges - dumb idea) And if everybody is bold enough, the metro sales tax increase for transit should go through because the metro favors the tax increases in total. Allow them to at least meet some of their transit requests. That still is not going to meet all of the needs of Minnesota's transportation infrastructure. More kicking the can, but at least its new revenue.

5. And for pete's sake, why not meet some of the greater Minnesota requests in a bonding bill? As we have seen before, costs for projects only go up if delayed. Maybe some of the unmet needs in transportation can be relegated to a bigger bonding bill. And if greater Minnesota emphasis is the need, then don't talk, ACT.

6. Its worth noting that the cutback on cigarette taxes is nuts. But please keep the e-cigarette tax in place...and make it bigger.

7. Education funding needs to be increased. And the U of M low ball number doesn't punish the administration, it only hurts students. The numbers have to be reworked in this regard, and making tax cuts a priority in light of stalled education budgets is absolutely ludicrous.

8. And find money for broadband....or go into next election at your own peril. Hint. hint.

9. The punitive LGA cuts for Twin Cities and Duluth need to be gone.

There you are....a layman's suggestion.

Feel free to ignore and I'm sure you will. But for heaven's sake, get something done.
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MN House GOP Is Already Failing Greater Minnesota

Category: Economy
Posted: 04/10/15 10:09

by Dave Mindeman

Remember when the GOP took back the Minnesota House? And remember how all the turnover districts were in greater Minnesota? And remember, also, that the House told everyone that greater Minnesota would get more emphasis at the legislature because of that?

Well, maybe the MN House GOP didn't really mean it quite like that.

The Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities is up in arms about Rep. Pat Garofalo's Energy and Economic Development Budget bill, which, they say...

In another blow to the future of broadband expansion in the state, the bill also eliminates funding for the Office of Broadband Development which helps communities and residents understand the options for obtaining broadband service.

"The House GOP's decision to put $0 into broadband essentially kills the Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant Program," said Heidi Omerza, an Ely City Council member and president of the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities (CGMC). "The lack of high-speed broadband continues to be one of the most pressing issues for communities and businesses across the state. It is deeply concerning that the House GOP has chosen to eliminate the funding needed to expand this vital service."


Garofalo says broadband is too expensive...

"The migration of technology is toward wireless and satellite deployments, and you can get far more coverage at a lower price by using wireless instead of fixed fiber," Garofalo said. "We'll see where the technology takes us, but it's pretty clear that around the world even high density areas are using wireless because the infrastructure costs are so much cheaper."

Garofalo seems to be making a unilateral decision here. The Coalition has been working on broadband access for a long time...yet, Garofalo has axed the program completely. Whether the Coalition was consulted on this is unclear.

But they are not happy.

Dayton and the DFL legislature had committed $20 million to the effort during the last budget cycle. A task force has recommended $200 million more. But Rep. Garofalo has all but killed the effort.

Really. It is one thing to SAY that you are going to put rural issues front and center, but it is another thing to DO the opposite and think you can have no consequences.

Clearly, the House GOP has the impression that they can take the rural voters for granted and then continue on with their agenda to dismantle the very progress that the Democrats have cleared a path for in this state.

Obviously the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities isn't buying it....

"We are astonished as to why the House would ignore one of the state's biggest economic development needs," Audrey Nelsen, a member of the Willmar City Council and CGMC Board of Directors, said. "The lack of high-quality broadband affects communities and regions all across the state. Eliminating state funding for the broadband program will have a grave effect on Greater Minnesota."

Outstate Minnesota is beginning to notice. The Fargo Forum voiced an editorial that sums it up pretty well....

The new majority Republicans have yet to deliver, and if the program they've outlined remains their primary agenda, the promise will not be realized. Despite a good start at the beginning of the legislative session, House Republicans now are setting budget priorities that can't possibly fulfill the needs of their outstate constituents.

Early on, the House majority embraced bipartisan legislation on workforce housing, aid to cities, job training, broadband expansion and environmental regulatory reform - all priorities for greater Minnesota communities. But House GOP budget targets indicate that those priorities cannot be seriously addressed. A cut of as much as $20 million in an economic development budget and $2 billion in tax cuts almost guarantee they will be unable to fund greater Minnesota's long-neglected needs
.

As the old adage says....actions speaks louder than words.
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Walmart Meeting The $9 Minimum Is Apparently Newsworthy

Category: Economy
Posted: 04/08/15 18:34

by Dave Mindeman

Apparently this is supposed to be a news story....

Every Walmart employee in Minnesota is now earning at least $9 an hour. The pay raises for more than 7,700 Minnesotans employed by the retail giant went into effect last Saturday.

Are we supposed to congratulate the giant retailer for this? Is this some kind of great gesture to their employees?

Under Minnesota law, WalMart will be "required" to pay $9.00 per hour to its employees on August 1st anyway......so for them to make the grand announcement of $9.00 per hour a few months early must be their way of showing the world how employee sensitive they have become.

The fact that 7700 Minnesota employees were still under the $9.00 figure and probably closer to the $8.00 per hour required by Minnesota law currently is probably the more realistic story.

Walmart makes billions of dollars. The owners of Walmart are high on the list of the richest people in the world. And yet, the employees still struggle with poverty wages. $9 per hour will not support a family. And until Walmart begins to move significantly above the base minimum salary required, then Walmart should get no kudos from anybody.

And as long as Walmart uses state welfare money as its idea of a health plan, then they should get no Federal subsidies or trade preferences either.

It's just not news.
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