Regarding the Jan. 7 article "Tax bill's quirks may swing state taxes — up or down" (followed by "Taxpayers get $813M warning," Jan. 11): This law will have a profound impact on our state. For those of you concerned about increased school class sizes, protection for seniors in nursing homes and access to health care, pay attention to how the state responds to the new tax law. If we simply pass "federal conformity," Minnesota will have a radically different tax code with radically different priorities. If we do nothing, many of our taxpayers will be taxed twice on the same income. We must demand that the governor and the Legislature push for solutions to the negative impact of this new law.
Other high-service states are responding ("States maneuver to offset tax law," Jan. 7): One good idea is to change state income taxes into employer-side payroll taxes, with relief for low-income earners. This way, we can avoid the double taxation and preserve the independence of our state to choose how we tax our citizens and provide government services. Another idea is to sue the federal government on equal protection grounds: States with low taxes and low services benefit at the cost of high-tax, high-service states. Whatever the response is, Minnesota must not let the federal government dictate dramatic changes to our state government. Our leaders need to step up and protect our state's values.
Carolyn Jackson, Edina
The writer is a DFL candidate for the Legislature.
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The good news is that state leaders are preparing to deal with the impending tax increase that Minnesotans will receive as a result of the new federal tax law. The bad news is that there is no mention of figuring out strategies for dealing with the loss of deductibility for property and state income taxes. Other states such as New York, California, New Jersey, etc., are creating new approaches. It is imperative that our leaders do the same and start now.
Arne Carlson, Minneapolis
The writer was governor of Minnesota from 1991 to 1999.
HENNEPIN COUNTY BOARD
A $55,000 office renovation, 'eyebrow-raising'? What a smear.
That was a cheap shot at Hennepin County Board Member Debbie Goettel in the Jan. 11 editorial about her office renovations ("An eyebrow-raising use of public dollars").
Why was she given an unusable office in the first place, and why should she have to spend her time over several months finding the "best deals" to make it usable? Surely a county commissioner has better things to do than shop for furniture — and that might have made a more compelling editorial.
Mary Meland, Minneapolis
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Having spent 35 years in the interior-design industry, I see more than furnishings and renovation costs in that $55,000 sum.
I see labor, professional services, manufacturers, sales reps, designers — "jobs" for many people.
I see improvement and restoration of infrastructure that could last another 40 to 50 years if cared for.
I see people positively influenced by a more functional, orderly and beautiful environment.
Marie Schlink, Minneapolis
MOVEMENT AGAINST HARASSMENT
Let's make the discussion about what women accomplish
Time's Up indeed. But #MeToo? Without question I oppose sexual harassment but let's morph #MeToo from announcing abuse to celebrating women's accomplishments — i.e., I earn equal pay, I've been promoted to management, I'm on the board of directors, I've been elected to City Council, I hold national office, I'm the CEO, and on and on.
Marcia Cheney, Arden Hills
HEALTH CARE POLICY
Two family anecdotes, offered as evidence it can be done well
Rushing to immerse himself in the sights and sounds of Barcelona, Spain, my exuberant 6-year-old grandnephew tripped and split open his forehead on a roadside curb. His distressed parents quickly located a nearby clinic, where he was welcomed, stitched, evaluated and put back on the street with a sweet and a shortlist for follow-on care. It took 15 minutes, no paperwork.
My daughter, while a graduate student in Burgundy, France, developed a nasty, difficult infection. The problem was diagnosed by a confident, competent and friendly family physician and was cleared up with two visits and a 30-day follow-up. No wait, minimal paperwork and no cost.
What should be interesting to taxpayers about these anecdotes is that both of these systems operate with less than two-thirds of the government support than does the U.S. health care system. We taxpayers have been hearing ad nauseam debate about the cost of health care for 40 years, while the systems above and at least seven others in industrialized countries provide better service and better outcomes at half the cost. It isn't rocket science; we just need to learn and adopt practices that are already working.
John Cook, Burnsville
ADDICTION AND RECOVERY
I second the motion: Society must be more encouraging
I would like to congratulate Dr. Luther Paul Philaya for his exceedingly honest and brave commentary about his experience with his recovery from addiction ("Recovery doesn't get the community support it needs," Jan. 9).
As a physician in recovery and one who treats patients with the disease of addiction, I agree with his observations and experience of the stigma that individuals in recovery still face.
Addiction is a powerful chronic brain disease that can destroy individuals and families and result in tremendous suffering and death. Recovery requires a life change and continued attention to an individual's physical, emotional and spiritual health.
Those who are recovering should be appreciated, admired, congratulated and offered help when requested. They should never feel a need to be secretive and should never feel shamed.
I congratulate you, Dr. Philaya, and all those living a life of recovery.
Dr. Gregory Amer, Roseville
The writer is an addiction medicine physician.
Now you've gone and done it
Hold up. Did you seriously publish an article at the beginning of the NFL playoffs filled with quotes from Minnesota Vikings players and coaches about how confident we are that there aren't going to be any problems with our kicker? ("No fear of failure," Jan. 10.)
Are you crazy?
As the author wrote the article, did he break a mirror after walking under a ladder and crossing a black cat's path while holding an open umbrella indoors?