To the editor:
The people of Minnesota voted to make the current legislature Republican and I honor that choice. Fifty-six percent of them also voted for Governor Dayton and Tom Horner, who both supported budget plans with a mix of cuts and tax increases.
Now, a very recent poll in the Star-Tribune indicated 63 percent of those responding want a Dayton-like compromise and 27 percent agree with a cuts only budget as the republicans have proposed, apparently with no room for compromise. In other words, by a 2-1 margin Minnesotans favor a compromise that would curtail a frankly childish shutdown of state government.
It's important to note who has been more willing to make the compromises that the electorate favor. Dayton has never asked that 98 percent of Minnesotans pay any new taxes, just the wealthiest 2 percent. At first he asked for a 5 percent increase in the taxes for a couple making more than $300,000 a year and a single person earning $180,000. To move closer to the Republicans, he cut the increase from 5 to about 2 percent.
Recently he went along with more Republican wishes to postpone repaying school districts 1.8 billion dollars and to recover the remaining gap in the 5.1 billion deficit with 1.8 billion in spending cuts and 1.8 billion in additional tax revenues from the same 2 percent, mentioned above.
The objections to the Governor's compromises basically add up to "no new taxes," which clearly means shifting the burden to localities and property taxes, just as it has meant for the past eight years.
This passing the buck leads to a serious inequity because local property values are far from equitable from community to community. In Edina they are certainly not, for instance, having to cut close to the percentage of teachers and programs, as they are in other school districts around the state.
Furthermore, the cuts-only approach will appreciably slice into overall education funding and wipe out 20 percent of the already badly depleted higher education budget, again increase college tuition, throw more than 100,000 Minnesotans off their health insurance, and even threaten to close some rural hospitals and nursing homes.
Personal incomes such as Governor Dayton wants to tax of those making the most in the state do not create appreciable wealth for the rest of us. Companies do and there are many qualities of life in Minnesota that attract some of the best companies in the country. These qualities include a better educated workforce, even though now Minnesota's spending on education has fallen into the bottom third of the states.
Good roads and technological connectivity are also critical to companies, as are many services provided them by the government itself.
When it's all boiled down, the new legislators are being called upon to govern in the interests of 98 percent of Minnesotans and not just the wealthiest 1-2 percent. We've already had a decade of trickle down economics with huge tax cuts for the wealthiest in America. At the same time real wages for American workers from 2000-09 rose only 4.5 percent over all of that time, when from the years 1929-39 they rose a little over 5 percent, smack in the middle of the Great Depression.
The results of tax cuts for the richest have been anything but the halcyon economic times that so much more personal income for the wealthiest is supposed to create for the rest of us.
Greg Van Hee
Perham, formerly of Marshall