In 2013, I was honorably discharged from the military. My wife and I were excited to finally move back to our home state of Minnesota. In the last three years, I have realized this is not the great state I thought. Many articles have been written on the exodus of young professionals from Minnesota. Well, you can add my wife and I to that list. I am paying an effective tax rate of about 40 percent when you include federal, state, property, etc. I picked up a bad habit during my combat deployment in smoking. This state has taxed me and fellow smokers to a breaking point. Even after all of the massive increase in taxes, our government wants to spend even more this year. As they say, the grass might not be greener in my next state, but I know my bank account will be. For two college-educated professionals, the ability to save for our future family is by far the most important part of our decision.

Ryan Carlson, North Branch, Minn.


I’m not sure taxpayers should be pleased with that rebranding

Good grief. We taxpayers paid almost a million bucks to a PR firm (at least it’s a local outfit) to “rebrand” our higher-education system? (“Meet the new ‘Minnesota State’ as MnSCU ditches its difficult name,” June 22.) Let the roundup commence, ol’ pard, I’ve got the branding irons stored in a shed here somewheres.

When will these superadministrator consultants get it that loyalty and recruiting are tied inextricably to campus presence? It’s a force that’s easy to connect and it is easy to see. All one has to do is walk on campus — any campus — and observe the students and faculty and eavesdrop on a conversation or two. I urge the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system to dump consultants, visit a few campuses, talk with students and other workers, and then figure out a system logo to run below individual campus symbols. I’m sure there are any number of talented design, history and journalism students on the several campuses who would be delighted to help develop outstanding new “brands.”

Carl Brookins, Roseville

The writer is a former Metropolitan State University admissions counselor.

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Surely one of the colleges in the MnSCU group has graphic arts and marketing departments. Why spend $600,000 of public money to come up with a new logo and name when it should have been done in-house? I worked for the Mall of America for many years. When the mall had a new attraction, names for it were solicited from employees. The prizes were trivial, but entries were plentiful and creative.

Students are paying ever-larger tuitions, and money is squandered on a logo of an M under a star. Apparently, Minnesota State leadership needs to be schooled in fiscal responsibility.

Judith Erickson, Bloomington


There is a new reality, to which nurses must transition

While anyone can understand Allina nurses’ resistance to paid-benefit reductions, the nurses must transition to the new reality of the current employee-benefit environment (“Allina, union dispute quality of care,” June 21). Thankfully, their salaries are adequate enough to contribute to their health insurance, just like all the rest of us have done for many years now.

The power of unions has diminished significantly over the years, but strikes seem to still be effective to at least force some compromise on radically disparate positions. Allina is suffering the challenge of maintaining services while using replacement nurses of only 30 percent of the normal count of striking nurses off their jobs, but only a temporary, one-week setback.

The market is vast for nurses, and they are free to gravitate to the best jobs for them over time. Allina must compete to attract and retain quality staff by meeting market standard salary and benefit packages. A benefit-change transition period may be the best solution for both sides of these negotiations.

Michael Tillemans, Minneapolis


Here’s a way to help with both burnout and child development

Foster parents step up to support children who find themselves in terrible circumstances, and our communities rely on foster parents to act as caregivers on our behalf. Foster parents should be able to rely on us for necessary resources and support. However, as “Foster parents feeling burned out, cleaned out” (June 21) described, increasingly, they cannot.

Here’s one promising way forward. Our policy landscape creates a perverse disincentive against fostering children too young for kindergarten. All foster parents open their homes and lives to children in crisis. Foster parents caring for children ages 5 and up can rely on public schools as free, safe, stimulating environments for the kids. However, when we ask families to foster younger children, we are asking much more because we ask them to pay many thousands of extra dollars a year out of their own pockets for child care or to forgo earning opportunities to provide care themselves.

One way to eliminate this perverse disincentive would be for the state or counties to offer early-learning scholarships to cover the costs of high-quality child care services for foster children too young for kindergarten. This would help to ensure that the children have a chance to flourish despite the adversity that they’ve faced. Hennepin County is leading the way by experimenting with this approach.

Foster parents do an extraordinary service for our community. We owe it to them to do better. And, as Frederick Douglass wrote, “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”

Aaron Sojourner, Minneapolis

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The $18.50 per day paid to foster parents for the care of each child is a sad commentary on our society’s values. For this amount, the foster parents are expected to provide quality care 24/7, food, nurturing, and management of school, home and community activities. Sadly, many of these foster children and young people also have serious behavior problems that require significant support and can disrupt the life and home of the entire family.

By comparison, kennel care for a dog ranges from $25 to $40-plus per day. For this amount, the dog is kept in a controlled environment and given a couple of walks a day plus some playtime in a fenced area. Oh, yes, and owners provide food.

Can you see what’s wrong with this picture?

Jan Prazak, Golden Valley