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Readers Write (April 26): State budget, Petters case, air quality

  • April 25, 2013 - 7:14 PM

STATE BUDGET

Do DFL proposals equal responsibility or risk?

Kudos to DFL legislators for seeking the revenue increases necessary if we are serious about balancing the budget (without accounting tricks) and investing in what we say our priorities are. Frankly, I wish they had asked for more. We have infrastructure that cannot afford another biennium of underfunding and neglect.

A few decades ago, the state’s top income tax rate was 12 percent; corporations considered paying taxes to be good citizenship, and schools received funds from a statewide levy that equalized disparity across districts.

Today, the top rate is less than 8 percent; more than half of corporations in the state pay no income tax, thanks to loopholes and subsidies, and schools depend on the instability and inequity of local levies.

We don’t have to look far to see that we have abundant revenue to build a healthy and prosperous Minnesota. We just need to look to our past to find the courage and sense of community necessary to use it.

Gregory King, Minneapolis

• • •

The April 20 issue of the Star Tribune had a front-page story: “Minnesotans ranked last in business creation.” The top headline on April 24 was: “Push is on to tax more income.” Don’t you think they are related?

Al Beisner, Maple Grove

• • •

I’m deeply concerned about the impact that proposed tax increases will have on my business and employees. Over the last several years, we’ve looked closely at our bottom line and have figured out how to do more with less. However, we’re not completely out of the woods, and the proposed tax increases threaten to reverse the recent slow growth seen in the business community across Minnesota.

I love Minnesota, my company and my employees. Taxpayers deserve accountability. Before legislators ask for additional money from us, they should first do what businesses and families do: review their budget, cut wasteful spending and ensure each dollar is being spent wisely.

Tim Yocum, St. Paul

• • •

When I hear politicians say they will cut waste in government, make government smaller and use it to create jobs, I have these questions:

• What “waste” will you eliminate?

• What government programs and activities will you cut or reduce?

• Other than spending more money, how will your plans actually create jobs?

Whether we agree or not, everything our governmental bodies do, they do because someone thought it was a good idea at one time. We need to make sure that any cuts are also a good idea.

Remember, making a smaller government means someone will lose their job. It might be the right thing to do, but regardless, job loss is the reality.

Raymond Voss, Edina

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PETTERS CASE

The breaks aren’t going to the real victims

In December 2009, Tom Petters was found guilty of operating a multi-billion-dollar Ponzi scheme. A court-appointed receiver for the Petters bankruptcy was assigned the task of recouping “clawback” money from people and entities benefiting from Petters’ largesse and philanthropy when he was flush with cash. Not an easy task for the receiver.

However, I think it would be an easy call to ask Ted Mondale to refund more than just $50,000 of the $150,000 loan he received from Petters (“Judge OKs Mondale’s $50,000 settlement,” April 24). Mondale receives an annual salary of $160,325 as executive director of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority. Why not garnish a portion of his earnings until the balance of $100,000 is paid off?

The other two settlements approved by the court are even more egregious. Robert Wolbert is to pay back $16,400 of $600,000 and Stephen Ratliff is to pay $23,190, which is 4 percent of what he received from Petters. Where is the justice for the victims of this scheme?

Dan Howell, Medicine Lake

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AIR QUALITY

Burning for pleasure, burning for energy

The next time you light your back-yard bonfire, remember that it won’t be just your neighbors with asthma, COPD and heart issues who will be negatively affected; it may soon affect your wallet. As pointed out April 24 (“To fight smog, give up that lawn mower?”), the Twin Cities region may soon exceed federal limits on pollution, resulting in costs of up to $240 million. It is no longer the power plants and factories that are the major polluters, it is us.

Sue Romain, Minneapolis

• • •

The Hennepin Energy Recovery Center burner is smack-dab next to the Twins stadium in downtown Minneapolis, and District Energy is smack-dab against downtown St. Paul, and together they put out so much particulate matter and toxins that back-yard burning and lawn mowers are Sunday school by comparison.

We out here in citizen land would like to see an honest review in the media of these big industrial polluters that the politicians keep supporting and putting money into.

Nancy Hone, St. Paul

The writer is the founder of Neighbors Against the Burner.

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