Cheers, jeers and a suggestion or two

The inevitable result of meeting Gov. Tim Pawlenty's objective of cutting funds to local governments will be an increase in property taxes. Since I am a senior citizen on a fixed income, that means a pay cut for me -- a reduction of my net spendable income. Actually, it's another pay cut, since the governor has advocated such cuts before.

I'd feel better about this if the governor and legislators who support this policy will themselves take a voluntary pay cut, so they can actually share my pain.

Or at least cut their per diem expenses and the governor's out-of-state travels.



Finally, we have a budget that matches the times. Congratulations, Gov. Pawlenty, on a job well done!

Companies all over the country are laying off employees. Other companies are eliminating 401(k) matching funds, freezing salaries and suspending incentive programs. The time has come for government to do much of the same.

The DFL leaders and their cronies were quick to run to the podium with the usual "the sky is falling" press conferences. But did any of them offer an alternative plan? NO! Their excuse? They don't have the details yet. Well, if they don't have the details, why are they having a press conference? Pure political baloney, that's why.

It's time to take off the political labels, roll up the sleeves and quit pandering to the TV cameras! If you have a better plan, let's see it.



I can hardly believe Gov. Tim Pawlenty wrote this: "A study by the Tax Foundation shows that Minnesota has the third-highest business tax rate in the world" (Opinion Exchange, Jan. 25). He also made the same claim in his State of the State address.

A tax rate means nothing. It's what is actually paid after deductions and loopholes that matters. The governor's source, the Tax Foundation (Background Paper #58, 2009 Bs.Tax Climate Index), shows clearly that actual corporate income taxes paid in Minnesota are not among the three highest -- in the world, or for that matter, the nation!

Make your case, governor. But please respect taxpayers with reality-based arguments.



I agree with Gov. Pawlenty that the budget debate "is not about where Minnesota is currently. It's about where Minnesota is headed." (Star Tribune, Jan. 28). The information age and a new green economy demand well-educated citizens and professionals to creatively address the complex challenges of our times and lead Minnesota into a better future. Investment is needed in public higher education to help position Minnesota to be a state that will take advantage of changes in technology, systems, energy, agriculture, medicine, on and on.

It's obvious to me that Minnesota needs to find some new revenue. Let me suggest one source. As recently as a few years ago, Minnesotans with incomes of more than $105,000 paid less in state and local taxes as a percentage of their income than those earning less than that amount. That is clearly regressive taxation.

An increase in state taxes on those earning more than $105,000 to assure that they pay at least the same percentage of their income in state and local taxes as do our neighbors earning less than that amount makes good sense in these times. It will make our state and local tax system fairer. It will also provide funds for state government that can be used to invest in public higher education and in so doing help build a better future for Minnesota.



Take your time, give us a good stimulus bill

President Obama is telling the country that "We don't have a moment to spare" in passing a stimulus bill. This sounds very similar to the rhetoric we heard about the bank bailouts, the Patriot Act and many other bills over the years. Then after they are passed we find they are not as effective as promised or have hidden issues. If this is so important, let's take the time to do it right as opposed to forcing through a hastily conceived bill.



Close race is the senator's doing

Hmm. Maybe if Sen. Norm Coleman hadn't stood so close to President Bush for eight years, 226 more people would have voted for him.



Parents, make sure your athletes are protected

A photo of the hockey player who had suffered successive concussions (Sports, Jan. 27) was a clear example of why such injuries can occur: The young athlete was skating without her mouth guard properly in place.

This vital piece of equipment not only protects the teeth but also lessen the shocks to the skull in the case of collisions. Minnesota hockey has long recognized the importance of this small device by assessing a two-minute misconduct penalty to players not wearing mouth guards. As a youth hockey coach, I require players to have their mouth guards in place at all times while on the ice, practices included.

Parents can support this effort by stressing to their children that they will not be allowed to participate if they do not wear their mouth guards.