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Readers Write: (March 27): Tax climate, school discipline, attracting a Super Bowl, access to trade talks

  • March 26, 2014 - 6:32 PM

COMPETITIVENESS, CONT.

Tax climate is another repelling factor

While Gov. Mark Dayton is taking bows for his minor, badly needed tax rebate, it is sobering to review the nonpartisan Tax Foundation’s recent state-by-state comparison of tax data. In virtually every category, our state taxes its citizens and corporations, large and small, more than all but a handful of other states. We are sixth-highest in combined state and local tax burden, seventh-highest in state tax collections per capita, seventh-highest in state and local tax rates, and ninth-highest in state and local tax revenue per capita. Most disturbing, Minnesota ranks 47th in terms of state business tax climate. In contrast, Wisconsin announced this week lower income tax rates for all taxpayers and a host of business tax reforms intended to make the state more attractive as a place to locate business.

Yes, we have the University of Minnesota and its rich resources. Several of America’s major corporations call the state their home, and we have a vibrant cultural community. We also have a climate that generously might be called “challenging” and a sports culture that is average at best. Businesses, largely small and medium ones, drive our economic engine and provide livelihoods for our citizens. We can’t any longer assume that our quality of life is so terrific that we can impose any governmental burden. We must convince people and businesses that they can prosper in a state that understands it cannot demand more of their limited resources.

Mark H. Reed, Plymouth

 

SCHOOL DISCIPLINE

Is it racism? Reality? Or a combination thereof?

It’s more than a lack of order and school rules (“Race affects even preschool suspensions,” March 22, and subsequent responses in Readers Write). Why can’t we just call it as it is? Are we to believe that our teachers and school administrators are strongly racist? I don’t.

One of the leading reasons that kids of any ethnicity act up is the lack of a stable family life. Just say it.

Some internal family comments from parents of grade-school students confirm that children from single-parent households, broken homes and live-in-boyfriend families arrive at school with street knowledge beyond their years. These, most of the time, are the troublemakers. Perhaps more black children are the victims of the aforementioned family arrangements, hence are a larger percentage of those suspended.

Let’s ease up on so glibly calling our teachers racist.

William M. Ruva, Golden Valley

• • •

Whenever there is an article about differential treatment of a minority group such as that about suspensions of African-American children in preschool, people are always ready to decry the notion that racism might just be at work.

These issues aren’t about racist individuals in the schools or other settings purposefully singling out African-American kids to discipline, although I’m sure that’s been done. This is about a pattern of behavior by an institution that results in the negative treatment of a group of people. The individuals of that institution may not even be aware that they contribute to the problem just by doing what they’ve always done. That’s the insidious nature of the problem. No individual takes responsibility to change his or her behavior, and the institutions don’t want to look at the facts, either.

It’s also, in part, why we continue to experience disproportionate sentencing and numerous other examples in which groups of people are treated differently because of their race.

Jeanne Torma, Minneapolis

SUPER BOWL

To host it is to receive a windfall in many ways

I guess I’m not as enlightened as those making a stink over waiving certain taxes in return for acquiring a Super Bowl. It’s as if they think we’re writing the NFL a $10 million check. But these taxes would not be here without a Super Bowl being held here.

Even after waiving these taxes, the area would still enjoy a windfall of, depending on whom you believe, anywhere from millions to tens of millions to hundreds of millions of dollars of ancillary income from hosting the game, not to mention the priceless publicity of having our city and state beamed around the world, and being the center of the sporting universe for two or more weeks, with full hotels, bars and restaurants. (In February, no less — not exactly peak tourist season around here.) I would also be curious to compare typical February sales at the Mall of America with the days and weeks preceding the game.

I understand the bitterness of the anti-stadium crowd, but really, folks, it’s a done deal. It’s time to get over it, move on and start capitalizing on our investment. We’re not giving the NFL anything. It was never ours to take without the game.

Hosting the Super Bowl will never be a money-losing proposition, and even if it nets us only $100, it’s $100 more than we had before the game.

John G. Morgan, Burnsville

 

TRADE TALKS

Congress members in fact do not have access

Mark Kennedy and Tim Penny really need to get their facts straight with respect to the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations. In a recent letter (“A few more facts …,” March 11) they imply that members of Congress have access to the negotiating sessions. That is simply wrong, as are all the other purported benefits of TPP and NAFTA they tout. In fact, no member of Congress or the news media is permitted to observe or directly participate in these closed-door sessions. If either Mr. Kennedy or Mr. Penny were to observe or participate, it would only be as representatives of one or more of the 600 big corporate interests who enjoy access that the American people and their elected leaders do not.

U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan, D-Minn.

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