How about a Q Comp for the governor as well?

Despite the state's budget problems, Gov. Tim Pawlenty continues his push for Q Comp -- pay for teachers based on student performance. Well, students are doing a lot better than the state's economy and budget. Maybe Pawlenty should base his salary on the state's performance.



In his State of the State address, the governor used the analogy of a family at the kitchen table trying to make ends meet as a model for solving the state's economic problems. So let's do that.

Can you imagine any family that would only consider cutting expenses and rule out raising revenue to solve their problems? I think all of us would have to look at both sides.



It's nice Gov. Pawlenty and his staff found the money in the budget to hold press conferences in St. Paul and in Madison, Wis., to tout cooperative efforts with Wisconsin. However, the grandstanding offered little help toward solving Minnesota's $4.8 billion projected deficit over the next biennium. All he offered was smoke and mirrors. He is interested in PR gimmicks, not solutions. Stunts like this trivialize the seriousness of the situation we face.

You can't solve a multi-billion-dollar deficit alone by bulk purchases of road salt and sharing helicopters for deer counts. We have said from the outset that a multi-pronged approach needs to be taken. This deficit didn't happen overnight. Pawlenty is, as the leader of this state, to blame for this colossal budget disaster for not correcting the structural defects that date back prior to the 2000 tax cuts.

Minnesota can't cut its way out of this deficit. You could lock all of the state agency doors today, and Minnesota would still have a deficit. The solution to the state's financial crisis can't continue to be to carve state services to the bone.

There's a myth in Pawlenty's office that outsourcing state services is the silver bullet to every budget problem. That's wrong. In many ways, the push to outsource will cost more and, in some cases, put the Minnesota public in harm's way.

The Minnesota Association of Professional Employees established a budget and service cuts task force to look for ways to trim excessive spending from government and to help reduce the number of layoffs. MAPE representatives have met with leadership in the state Senate and House to provide recommendations on ways to trim the budget.



rethinking energy

Looking back, Carter's ideas look pretty good

A Jan. 13 letter writer excoriated President-elect Barack Obama's proposals as "Jimmy Carter nonsense that didn't work then and won't work now."

Carter's proposals for energy conservation and the development of alternative energy sources were right on, and if the nation had heeded and implemented his advice we would certainly be in far better shape now.

The auto and fossil fuel industries raged loud and long via their hefty PR budgets and congressional lobbyists to trash Carter and his proposals.

The auto industry has now been brought to its knees and forced, finally, into making more energy-efficient cars -- whether anyone will have enough money to buy them remains to be seen.

The fossil fuel industry screams on, wanting to expend what energy and other resources we have left to extract the last possible drop of oil when these limited resources would be far better spent on the energy conservation and alternative energy sources Carter proposed 30 years ago.



Jill Burcum makes an excellent point in her commentary, "Fiscal hawks aren't thinking big enough." However, she leaves out one key element of the economic stimulus plan that is very important to Minnesota -- that it could include a jump-start to a clean energy economy, which would ultimately remove the threat of global warming and the pollutions that cause it. Most economists have stated that if the nation does not address global warming now, it will pay much more in the future.

As for Minnesota, if the trend of global warming continues, what was once a beautiful and unique Upper Midwest landscape could eventually develop into that of a dry, Sub-Saharan one. Therefore, the "fiscal hawks" should cease their myopic ways, and look to truly improve the U.S. economy and future by implementing a boost to a clean energy economy via a stimulus plan.