The GOP, the DFL, the interlopers


Playing it like a grandiose gesture of perseverance, Republicans in the Legislature are giving themselves license to stay within the narrow bounds of their understanding and particular agenda by refusing to have a conversation that begins with a proposal for a tax increase ("'Things went backwards,'" July 7).

The concept of a nonstarter is troubling in general in the political forum, and more so when used as a way to circumvent the obligation to attempt to understand, communicate and do what's best for the state.

When GOP House Leader Kurt Zellers claims that raising taxes is a nonstarter, I envision a kid at recess in a dispute with another kid who sticks his fingers in his ears when the teacher comes to moderate.


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Here's a fact that can't be argued: Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed 23 bills in his first year. Compare that with Gov. Tim Pawlenty's two vetoes in his first year and 24 in five years. Just who is not cooperating here?

The Legislature passed the necessary budget bills before the session ended. The governor vetoed eight major omnibus appropriations bills and the omnibus tax bill. The Legislature did what it was elected to do. The governor did not.


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Funny, but I didn't notice Fritz Mondale or Arne Carlson on any ballots last election. If they want to be involved in the states' business, they can run for office ("Amid stalemate, Carlson and Mondale form a bipartisan group," July 6). Nobody gave them the right to interfere with the governor, the Senate or the House.


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Consider higher taxes on tobacco, alcohol


Every day in my practice of cardiology, I see patients whose lives have been disrupted by tobacco. Raising the tobacco tax by $1.50 per pack is one way to reduce this disruption.

Along with the positive effects on health, a higher tobacco tax will also save money on health care and provide nearly $400 million in revenue for the state in the next biennium. Thus, it is the only proposal that represents a triple solution.

A recent poll by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota found that nearly 60 percent of Minnesotans support a tobacco price increase as part of a solution to the budget crisis.


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Alcohol abuse by Minnesotans places a significant financial burden on public health and on the state judicial system -- costs that are by no means adequately and fairly reimbursed by the alcohol beverage industry.

There hasn't been an alcohol excise tax increase in Minnesota since 1987. Surveys show that three out of four Minnesotans support increasing the alcohol tax to pay for public safety, prevention and treatment of alcohol problems (Robert Wood Johnson Foundation).

The preventable personal tragedies of alcohol abuse are frequently documented in the print media and voiced on radio and TV. The time has come for alcohol to join tobacco in paying for its continuing, never-ending human devastation.

Please, legislators, by any name you choose, pass an alcohol excise tax increase as a justifiable, permanent, budget-fixing, reasonable and sustainable state funding source.


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An open letter to the people of Minnesota


Some of you seem to have a hard time understanding what is going on with the government shutdown. You see, it is the job of a representative to vote according to the desires of the majority of those who put him or her in office. That's the point of a representative democracy, or "republic," as it is properly known.

Here in District 49, we had a senator who was not voting the way we were asking her to, and because of this she did not receive the primary nomination. We nominated a new candidate with a specific mandate (do not raise taxes, stop the spending). She won the election, and she is doing precisely what we have asked.

Many other districts did exactly the same thing we did, and their representatives are also doing what they were told to do by their constituents. Because we have a governor who is determined to raise taxes, they cannot come to an agreement.


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I share the concept (Readers write, July 6) that government has an ability to serve us best with elected representatives of any political party, provided they keep the interests of everyone in mind, including:

1. I want them to keep the quality of life in Minnesota one of the highest in the nation, even if it means more of my money. It doesn't require much political courage to take a state to the bottom.

2. I want government workers and teachers to work hard and enjoy the benefits that union representation provides. After all, the middle class was built thanks to union labor, and to abandon that now will turn the clock back to sweatshops and corporate barons.

3. I want my government to mind its own business here at home and stop telling individuals whom they can not marry.

4. Don't force me to pay for the medical care of the millions who seek help in the emergency room and hospitals without insurance, thus raising my health care cost to pay for their needs. Ha! No care is free.

And please, use any language anywhere in this state and country that helps new immigrants to become American citizens who are proud of their nation. If they stumble on the words of the national anthem, I can forgive them. They are in good company.