We read that the Minnesota Legislature has no “tax fix” in sight, with the usual blame game going back and forth between the parties (“With time running short, still no tax fix at Minnesota Legislature,” April 19). The real problem is not that of differences of opinion regarding the solution to this problem. The real problem is the archaic time limit for legislative sessions as set forth in Section 12 of Article 4 of the state Constitution, which allows no more than 120 legislative days per biennium and nothing after the first Monday after the third Saturday of May. The timing of this drop-dead date largely coincides with the agricultural necessities of the past. Those necessities are a lesser concern today. Our society and its problems are far more complex today than when the state Constitution was created. The possibility that this session’s deadline will arrive and leave taxpayers without a clear and workable solution affecting us all is totally unacceptable. In the Declaration of Independence, our founding fathers had the wisdom and foresight to remind us that any government which does not serve the needs of the people must be changed and that it is our responsibility (and not merely a right) to do so. Please dump the deadlines and get to work for your citizens.
Erick Woken, Coon Rapids
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The article on the state response to the new federal tax law is a reminder of the complexity of this issue and the importance of focusing on core values as Minnesotans in the debate. I strongly urge our legislative leaders and members of the tax committees to support a fair tax bill that provides relief for low- and middle-income Minnesotans. Several provisions in Gov. Mark Dayton’s tax proposal would do this, including an expansion to the Working Family Credit (WFC).
I am a longtime volunteer who prepares tax returns for free as a part of the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program at Prepare + Prosper. Tax credits like the Minnesota WFC can boost a family’s income and make a big difference to hardworking families and our communities. I’ve worked with hundreds of taxpayers, and each has a unique story. Many use their refunds to meet basic needs and save for unexpected emergencies. One recent customer told me she’d use part of her refund to buy a high school yearbook for her daughter. I hear from others who will finally be able to afford car repairs so they can get to work or begin to pay down debt.
As a volunteer tax preparer, I have real concerns about aspects of the new federal tax law that could harm Minnesotans. I hope our policymakers land on a final tax bill that helps as many of our state’s residents as possible.
Mary Beata Zweber, Stillwater
Southwest Airlines accident is evidence for oversight
The April 20 article “Southwest sought more time to check engines” indicated that last year the airlines had resisted Federal Aviation Administration efforts to have inspections of all engine fans of the type that broke a few days ago, killing a passenger. There had been a 2016 engine blowup on another Southwest plane.
What most Republicans and parts of the business community continually demean as troublesome “regulations” are, of course, really protections for the public. This accident and so many others (coal mines, driving, pollution, etc.) can readily be prevented by sensible rules.
Anyone for getting rid of those regulations on drinking and driving?
Robert Lyman, Minneapolis
Work requirements didn’t help previously, won’t help now
Work requirements lift people out of poverty? Hallelujah! But wait — why are the poor still with us?
If Annette Meeks’ badly researched and disingenuous commentary (“Proposal for able-bodied adults is modest, reasonable,” April 17) were true, then poverty would simply be a lifestyle choice. But we know that’s a preposterous claim. Why else are poverty rates for nonelderly adults nearly identical — and children only slightly lower — now to what they were when work requirements were enacted for cash welfare recipients over 20 years ago, according to the U.S. Census Bureau? As for the Kansas SNAP “study” from which Meeks draws much of her information, it has been thoroughly debunked by LaDonna Pavetti and colleagues.
I’m all for solutions that help all Americans do better. But we’ve already tried what Meeks and her fellow travelers propose. It doesn’t work. We need to go back to the drawing board.
Laura Hermer, St. Paul
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Meeks fuels bias and misinformation related to those receiving Medical Assistance (MA). Her commentary aimed to refute some commonly held values related to the work requirements for MA. Two “myths” she presented were followed up with misinformation. It is critical to dig deeper into the data to show that most people receiving MA do work and this proposed requirement would be very costly to Minnesota.
Meeks states “most enrollees do not work at all.” However, in Minnesota, 65 percent of nondisabled people receiving MA are employed. For those not employed, more than 60 percent are either disabled or retired, or are students; 28 percent are taking care of home or family; and only 8 percent are unable to find work.
Meeks also argues the costs savings through reduced caseloads. Case management is a fraction of the costs associated with MA. The primary value of health insurance is the right to preventive care. By 2015, increased MA access led to an all-time low of only 4 percent of Minnesotans without insurance. This increased coverage led to fewer emergency-room visits and increased use of medical services through primary care settings. From 2013 to 2016, there was a 20 percent decrease in emergency-room visits from people enrolled in Medical Assistance. Now that is cost savings.
Katy Johncox, Minneapolis
Something needs repair? Don’t dump it; fix it, with our help
The April 16 Business section contained an article about a long-standing small-appliance repair shop in Detroit closing because of lack of demand for its services. I wanted to remind readers that Hennepin County’s free, monthly Fix-It Clinic program (www.hennepin.us/fixitclinic) is going strong and stocked with eager and talented volunteers ready to help repair your broken household items. Better still, they help you learn how to fix your stuff, which makes the experience fun and empowering. Additionally, I would like to advise readers that well-made products do exist, so consider buying durable goods that are repairable rather than easily breakable versions. If attending a Fix-It Clinic isn’t an option for you, you can find a repair shop using our Choose to Reuse directory (www.hennepin.us/choosetoreuse).
Nancy Lo, Minneapolis
The writer is a waste reduction and recycling specialist for the Hennepin County Department of Environment and Energy.
An April 17 commentary misstated the number of Minnesotans who use Medical Assistance (Medicaid) in one of two locations where it cited the figure. According to the Minnesota Department of Human Services, more than 1 million Minnesotans are covered by Medicaid, or about 1 in 5. According to the Foundation for Government Accountability, 324,000 of them are able-bodied adults, about 1 in 17 residents of the state.