BUDGET BATTLE

State government's chance for innovation

The court decision on unallotment presents both a challenge and an opportunity ("Court upends Pawlenty's cuts," May 6).

We know the challenge. The opportunity is a chance to take a fresh approach to our budget decisions.

As advocates for people with disabilities, we know that our budget solutions need to come from several sources. We need a balanced approach that looks at all options, including raising revenues fairly. We can ensure that we fund programs that support people in the community, where money is spent more efficiently than in institutional settings. We can direct more resources to innovative programs that show us new ways of using our tax dollars more wisely, like giving people more control over the services they receive so they can decide how best to meet their needs.

The additional budget crisis that has just dropped in our laps can be a time for moving forward as a state. Let's use this opportunity to create a more sustainable system that meets the needs of our citizens who need support.

PAT MELLENTHIN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, ARC OF MINNESOTA, ST. PAUL

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The situation in Greece is dire. The country is on the brink of bankruptcy because of excessive government spending. Here at home, the Democrats' cradle-to-grave benefit programs are sending us down the same path. Gov. Tim Pawlenty gets it; our DFL Legislature doesn't. Wake up, folks.

STEVE FRANTA, WAYZATA

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What is going on in our state with taxes? I just don't get it. Yes, we have an exceptionally high unemployment rate, and I feel deeply for all of those who have lost their jobs and are struggling to feed their families. On the other hand, a vast majority of Minnesotans are employed and paying taxes. And guess what? All of them, including a retiree like me, can afford to pay more in taxes.

Why are tax increases off the table? We certainly have a fiscal crisis, but if it can only be solved by cutting costs that cause suffering, who among us could really support that solution?

Costs need to be managed down for sure, but I'm willing to pay more to stop the bleeding and stop hurting the most vulnerable in our state.

Given our admirable and compassionate history as a state, I just can't believe that Minnesotans want this absurd polarization to continue.

JOHN F. HETTERICK, PLYMOUTH

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Once again, some in the Legislature are calling for an increase in taxes to balance the budget.

How much is enough? When an engine is running at top speed, it is dangerous to make it do more. It will be damaged if you push it. I am running at top speed. If you take more from me, I too will be damaged.

Government needs to live within its means. When you run out of money, it's time to stop spending.

MARK PUPEZA, NEW HOPE

GOVERNOR'S RACE

Redefine the meaning of conservative values

I hope Minnesota decides it's high time we elect someone with old-fashioned, conservative values to be governor. And by that, I mean someone who knows that the only solution to a tough problem is hard work.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty has refused to truly do the hard work of balancing the state's budget, repeatedly choosing one-time fixes or, with last year's unallotment strategy, skirting the law to avoid doing the job of hammering out a strategy with the Legislature.

Now we have Republican candidate Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Delano, who can show up for rallies at the Capitol's doorstep but can't find his way through the door to cast votes on critical budget questions ("Emmer MIA on vote to ratify T-Paw's cuts," May 9). Our state government, and it is our government, needs to come together and figure out a solution that works for the whole state and everyone in the state. That's a tough job.

We can't afford to hand it over to another person who thinks governance is just political play.

BOB TRACY, ST. PAUL

target field

Terrific ballpark. But how do you get there?

Yesterday we traveled to the Twins game. What a joyful experience.

But we built a stadium worth hundreds of millions of dollars and can only afford one sign coming from the northwest that says "Target Field"? If you don't know that the A and B ramps are for the stadium, you may never get there. We drove around for an hour on Hwys. 94, 100 and 394.

Come on. What does it cost for a few signs to direct outstate people to the ballpark?

LES ALVSTAD, Barrett, Minn.

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Rainout? ("Threat of snow means no go," May 8). Why not just close the retractable roof? Oops, I forgot.

JOHN R. PENAS, WOODBURY

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I have been waiting for the new Twins stadium to open for 15 years. When I moved here from St. Louis, I could not, and never will understand, the concept of indoor baseball.

Now Target Field has opened, to the delight of thousands of fans. However, every time I turn on the news, the question I hear is, "What if it rains?" Guess what? It rains a lot, especially in the spring. Sometimes, it will be windy, sometimes cold, sometimes very, very hot. That is a vital part of the game of baseball. Some days will be so stunningly beautiful outside, you will wonder why baseball was ever played under a plastic bag.

In the words of Ebby Calvin LaLoosh, the character Tim Robbins played in ''Bull Durham'': "A good friend of mine used to say, 'This is a very simple game. You throw the ball, you catch the ball, you hit the ball. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes it rains.'" Think about that for awhile.

CATHY GOEDDE, SAVAGE

Correction

A May 7 editorial should have said that the Bush Foundation is working with 14 colleges and universities in the upper Midwest to improve teacher training programs. Eleven of those schools are in Minnesota; two are in North Dakota, and one is in South Dakota.