Readers Write (Feb. 20): State budget, the environment, St. Thomas

  • Updated: February 19, 2013 - 7:36 PM

No one, including Gov. Mark Dayton, believes a “Plan C” is just about taxes.

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STATE FINANCE

Plan C must include spending reform, too

Minnesota’s budget has two parts: spending and revenue. The Feb. 17 Star Tribune editorial, “A better state budget omits services tax,” addressed the latter, but made scant mention of the former (promising more specifics later). We believe that all engaged in the debate — including the Editorial Board — should put as much effort into the spending side of the equation as the tax side.

A closer examination surely provides opportunities to save money in the state’s $30 billion-plus general fund. No one, including Gov. Mark Dayton, believes a “Plan C” is just about taxes. Where are the ideas for focusing spending on the state’s highest priorities, minimizing it everywhere else, and redesigning all services to deliver the greatest value for every dollar spent?

The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce has several ideas and is discussing them with policymakers. We welcome any and all ideas from the Star Tribune and others.

Laura Bordelo, St. Paul

The writer is senior vice president for advocacy at the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce.

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Comparing Minnesota to a business is inappropriate (“A good manager would make higher taxes his last resort,” Feb. 15). If Minnesota were a business, the governor (CEO) would be compensated in the millions, and the Enron-style accounting under the Pawlenty administration that led us to the $1.1 billion shortfall would have been criminal. More important, state government is charged with providing services that Minnesotans need and want. We Minnesotans generally want our laws enforced, education for the next generations, our infrastructure to function, and some support for the most vulnerable members of our society. We also expect fairness on how we pay for all of this. Dayton’s budget proposals attempt to redress the imbalance of the last decade.

David Riggs, St. Paul

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A Feb. 17 letter writer implied that Dayton’s proposal would raise taxes on the wealthy by 25 percent. That is certainly not the governor’s proposal. He only proposes raising the marginal tax rate (for incomes over $250,000) by 25.4 percent. Using the 2012 Minnesota tax tables, for a person with an income of $300,000, that would mean an increase in taxes from about $18,500 to $19,500, or about 0.5 percent, not 25 percent. Frankly, I’d love to be in that income group and pay the extra one-half percent.

I’m no fan of taxes, but any time propaganda about taxes starts to circulate, lack of understanding of the basic math of marginal rates vs. total tax rates is often appalling. We all pay the same marginal tax rates; it’s just that many of us have no incomes to declare for the top two or three marginal rates. The wealthiest of us pay no higher a rate for the first $24,000 of income than the poorest of us (5.35 percent). The logic of a progressive tax is that the first $24,000 is rather more essential to our economic survival than the 25th $24,000 that we make in a year.

James Grimmer, Bloomington

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THE ENVIRONMENT

Mining is a risky way to jolt an economy

A Feb. 19 letter writer (“Mining could be our economic boom”) thinks we should charge full steam ahead on mining in northern Minnesota. He lives in Minneapolis and must not appreciate the periodic break the north provides to city dwellers.

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