Lawmaker against all these school levies
THUMBS DOWN: State Rep. Patrick Garofalo, a Republican from Farmington, is ready to go all out in a campaign against schools seeking levies, saying schools in Minnesota recently received a $50-per-pupil increase. He says the property tax shouldn't be used for schools "to go back for a second bite of the apple." We understand his position, especially considering about one-third of schools in Minnesota plan levy elections in November, but he needs to remember that school officials aren't exactly thrilled about the notion of having to put levies on the ballot, not in a time when property taxes are already destined to go up. In many cases, schools know that asking the public to pony up more money isn't very popular. Besides, in the end, referendum decisions are left up to those voters, who can prevent school boards from, as Garofalo put it, "fleecing" taxpayers by voting against levies. State lawmakers should stay out of it; don't they have enough to deal with at the Capitol? They should focus their energy on finding new ways to help schools and save them from having to dig deeper into the pockets of taxpayers.
Success adds up in Minneota
THUMBS UP: The success of recent Minneota High School athletic teams has been well-documented in this paper, and recently the school learned that the prowess displayed by various teams and individual athletes on the field, mat and court, when added together, really pays off. Minneota High School won the 2010-11 Class A Challenge Cup, a statewide, year-long competition that combines the success of all of a school's teams. The 8-year-old Challenge Cup program recognizes schools for excellence in athletic and fine arts activities. The Minnesota State High School League charts schools' success in section and state activities, and Viking teams competed in six state tournaments, finishing third in three of them, and were involved in the boys and girls state cross country championships. The Vikings also had a runner compete in the state track and field meet. All that led to 162 cumulative points - a whopping 21.2 more points than second-place Springfield - and the first Challenge Cup in school history. Congratulations, Vikings.
Poverty rises, income falls
THUMBS DOWN: Another reason for the importance of creating jobs and spurring economic growth in the near future came Tuesday when it was reported that nearly one out of every 10 Minnesotans lived in poverty in 2009-10 - a 2.1 percent increase from 2006-07. What's worse is that Minnesota's median household income fell by more than $10,000 from 1999-00 - only Michigan saw a larger decline in median income in that time period. Minnesota likes to consider itself somewhat insulated from the recession, but that obviously couldn't be further from the truth, and it certainly doesn't help matters, especially for those considered in the middle class, that we're one of the most taxed states in the country. This state needs more higher-paying jobs; there are jobs to be had out there, but do they pay enough to offset our ever-rising taxes? Do they pay enough to bring that median household income up? Maybe Republicans in the state Legislature had it right during the session when they stood firm against Gov. Mark Dayton's tax-the-rich plan in order to avoid watching large businesses leave the state for a more favorable tax climate and take their jobs with them. Then again, maybe Dayton's plan was the way to go to keep the tax weight off the shoulders of the middle class. The GOP?won that battle; we'll have to wait and see if pays off for middle-class Minnesotans or drives them down even more.