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Readers Write (March 22): DFL tax plans, workplace, child care unions, ethics, volunteers

  • March 21, 2013 - 7:09 PM

THE LEGISLATURE

DFL tax proposals target job creators

What a difference eight weeks makes. In January, House Speaker Paul Thissen and Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk addressed our Minnesota Chamber of Commerce Board. They pledged to work with the business community to solve the state’s deficit without harming jobs. This week, Thissen asked small businesses to pony up more money for a budget that proposes significant increases in spending and taxes and not enough spending reform.

That’s right: Raising personal income taxes is a direct hit on the small businesses and entrepreneurs that flow business income through personal income taxes. Gov. Mark Dayton already has proposed raising the state’s top personal income tax rate to 9.85 percent, which will affect 21,000 of Minnesota’s most successful businesses. House Democrats upped the ante by proposing a temporary surcharge on the highest wage-earners. At 11 percent, the income-tax rate would be second-highest in the nation. Senate Democrats have yet to offer specifics, so we hope they do not take the same path as the governor and House leadership.

Some legislators say the Minnesota Chamber unnecessarily paints a negative picture when we raise concerns about high taxes and an uncompetitive business climate. Their budget proposals reinforce our concerns. They propose raising between $2 billion and $2.5 billion in new taxes to fix a short-term $627 million problem. It’s fair to question how such significant new tax burdens will help generate jobs and economic growth.

David C. Olson; president, Minnesota Chamber of Commerce

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THE WORKPLACE

Employers ‘could’ choose good policies

A March 20 letter writer missed an option when he wrote that “raising the minimum wage leaves employers two options: Hire fewer workers, or raise prices to cover the added expense.” The third option is for employers to distribute profits ethically themselves. (Like that Costco guy. People like him.)

Most folks against a minimum wage are smart; they know about this third option. Why they choose to amputate it from their worldview is simple, and very human — greed. Greed harms humanity, just as murder and theft do. Society makes laws to mitigate murder and theft; why not greed?

For further perspective on ethical distribution of profits, research CEO-to-worker pay ratios from 30 years ago. For the religious, James 5:1-6 can help sew that third option back on.

Richard Widen, Minneapolis

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I wonder if Best Buy’s elimination of flex scheduling will backfire. A number of years ago, my then-husband worked as an engineer at a local company. He was a night owl, so went into work at 9:30 a.m. but would stay until well after 8 p.m. A vice president parked by the door and noticed people arriving at all hours, which disturbed him. He declared that all people were to work from 8 to 5, starting immediately. Productivity plummeted, and people actively sought jobs at other companies.

Keep in mind, this when employees could cross the street and get a comparable job the next day. The policy lasted two weeks.

People have flex hours for many reasons: working while they get their degree; being with their children until the school bus arrives; working during their most productive hours (night owl/early bird). Companies that care about employees as well as productivity take this into account.

Barbara Burkey, Roseville

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Unionization

Child care workers have little to gain

As the owner of an in-home child care business, I oppose the unionization of Minnesota family child care providers. State Rep. Michael Nelson, the Democratic author of a bill (HF950) to authorize it, has given three reasons he believes in union control:

1) A union will increase Child Care Assistance Program payments. But the House, Senate and governor can increase CCAP payments any time they choose. A union doesn’t need to be forced on us for it to happen.

2) A union would provide more and better educational opportunities for providers. Abundant training is already available through local groups, county and state conferences, support organizations, colleges, and technical schools. All training is approved by the state Department of Human Services.

3) A union will make it possible for providers to keep control of their businesses. I’ve been doing just fine without union help for almost 30 years. I set my own rates, determine my hours, and write my own policies and contracts. I’m a business owner. Unions were designed for employees.

Senate President Sandy Pappas said that if providers don’t want to be part of the union, they can choose not to accept families on CCAP. Therefore, a bill meant to increase benefits for CCAP recipients will ironically reduce options for low-income families.

If unionization is successful, other small businesses will soon be affected. The unions are starting with small businesses and will move on to bigger prey. We need to stop this power play.

Terry Gervais, Bloomington

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Acting dubiously

There’s ‘ethical,’ and then there’s ethical

Former Minneapolis City Council Member Steve Minn may not have violated any “written” ethics rules (March 20), but how about the “unwritten” ones? The use of pseudonyms in an attempt to “derail a business rival’s projects at City Hall” and “use of fake identities to e-mail city officials and make online postings” would certainly fit in the category of “unwritten” rules.

Andy Pakalns, St. Paul

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Acting admirably

May this example encourage others

Shawna Vivant is my new hero (“Volunteers babysit pets for the mentally ill,” March 20). She identified a great need and, with compassion and good sense, thought of a way to help — and she’s funding the program! Thank you for printing this story of someone who really will make a positive difference in people’s lives.

Cynthia Baxter, Minneapolis

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