State, national deficits prompt a tax debate
In response to the Dec. 6 article "State faces a projected $1.1 billion shortfall," it is good to see that Minnesota is closing the budget gap, but there needs to be a specific plan to give money back to education.
Education is an essential part of being a good citizen. The ability to adequately read, write and think critically are important to living in today's society.
Furthermore, putting money back into the education system is important for helping college students deal with rising costs of tuition. In the 2012-2013 academic year, national college tuition rates increased by 4 percent to 5 percent, according to InternationalStudentLoan.com.
I know from experience that increases in tuition rates make it difficult for families to make payments for college. Further increases in tuition will close the door for more individuals who wish to attain a higher education.
It is important to try to reach a balanced budget, but it is also very important that we keep educational opportunities open to everyone. Further funding for student aid should be one of the many priorities that the Legislature will have to focus on.
CAMERON MICHELSEN, ST. PETER, MINN.
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The article on the $1.1 billion shortfall appears to be priming Minnesotans for a tax increase. When you read the whole article, however, it turns out that the state is actually projecting a surplus of $1.3 billion in 2013, which will then be used to pay down the $2.4 billion that was borrowed from public schools, leaving $1.1 billion still left to be paid back to the schools. The $2.4 billion resulted when legislators in 2009 pushed payments to the public schools into 2010 in order to balance the budget in 2009. The Legislature then did the same in 2010 and 2011.
So 2013 will be the first year that a portion of the amount borrowed will be paid back if all goes as planned. The article doesn't state it, but if there is another similar surplus in 2014, the remaining $1.1 billion could be paid off then, and the following year we should actually have a fairly hefty surplus.
So there should be no need to raise taxes, should there? Yet the story indicates that Gov. Mark Dayton likely will ask for more next month. Could it be that the governor has plans for spending increases?
ROBERT SULLENTROP, MINNEAPOLIS
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As a transplanted Minnesotan living near Washington, D.C., I've heard plenty about the battle in Congress over the so-called "fiscal cliff." And, as the son of a Minnesota state legislator, I also take interest in how my home state is dealing with its own budget issues.
Your Dec. 6 editorial, "One-time fixes keep state budget in red," focuses largely on Minnesota's budget woes over the past few years, but also touches on some potential remedies, which include increasing taxes on the rich, specifically Minnesota's wealthiest 2 percent.
This calls to mind a recent Forbes opinion piece by Charles Kadlec about the larger, perhaps unintended impact of targeted taxes on the wealthy.
If Minnesota increases taxes on the rich, as Gov. Mark Dayton has alluded to, it's a no-brainer that the government will bring in more revenue, at least in the near-term.
The real question is: While government will see increased revenue, who in Minnesota won't?
I submit that it will be the middle class who will truly feel the squeeze as their goods and services will be passed on by the wealthy in favor of paying government dues.
Dayton says he's "done with gimmicks" when it comes to balancing the budget, and presumably increasing revenue.
Over the long haul, isn't this grab for cash from the rich just another gimmick? And one that may end up costing the middle class?
TRAVIS DETTMER, LORTON, VA.
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MINING IN MINNESOTA
Mining a 'juggernaut' may degrade wilderness
The use of the word "juggernaut" by the mining company Twin Metals ("Mining firm says land is a gold, copper 'juggernaut,'" Dec. 5) to describe land containing the precious metals the company seeks is curious because officials want us to believe that they are proceeding carefully and this will be a positive thing for our state.
Dictionary definitions of juggernaut include "something to which a person blindly devotes himself or is cruelly sacrificed, and a frightening invisible machine or force that crushes anything in its path."
It seems to me that both fit this situation, since permanent degradation of Minnesota's most pristine wilderness for a few years of jobs will result in a cruel sacrifice of Mother Nature's work.
There will surely be tons of crushed rock, and the environmental destruction of our land and waters will be all too visible. Sulfide mining has never operated anywhere in the world without serious contamination of natural waters, and the significant compromise to our valuable wetlands should not even be considered.
MARGOT MONSON, ST. PAUL
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KINDNESS IN MINNESOTA
Recipient of generosity will 'pay it forward'
Thank you to the person in the Caribou drive-through line in St. Louis Park at about 7:15 last Wednesday morning.
We were driving through on our way to an early morning choir rehearsal for my daughter. After I received my coffee and my daughter's hot chocolate, I learned that the car in front of us had paid for our morning drinks.
What a lovely surprise and kind gesture. I will surely be "paying it forward" next time I drive through and hope it will brighten someone's day the way mine was brightened.
ROBIN DOROSHOW, GOLDEN VALLEY