It’s still the case that low- and middle-income households pay a larger share of their incomes in Minnesota taxes than those with the highest incomes, even after recent tax policy changes that narrowed the gap. When all state and local taxes — including income, sales and property taxes — are taken into account, Minnesota’s tax system is regressive, not “highly progressive,” as a recent column suggested (“We’ve taken ‘tax the rich’ about as far as it can go,” Business, Oct. 8).

Minnesota made smart changes to its tax system in 2013 that ended a decade of frequent state budget deficits and allowed the state to make the kinds of investments that lay a strong foundation for a prosperous future, including strengthening education from preschool to college.

We should stay on this path toward a fairer tax system, and increase Minnesota’s Working Family Tax Credit so that families living paycheck to paycheck aren’t paying a bigger share of their budgets in taxes than those earning more.

Nan Madden, St. Paul

The writer is director of the Minnesota Budget Project.

SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE

The crucial leadership job that nobody seems to want

On Thursday afternoon, Rep. Kevin McCarthy dropped out of the race for Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, an election that many deemed his to lose (“McCarthy exit throws GOP in chaos,” Oct. 9). In an article written by Jake Sherman, Anna Palmer and John Bresnahan for Politico regarding that same event, the authors note that McCarthy was one of the few capable lawmakers who actually wanted the job. What does that say about our political system?

The Republican Party is struggling to find a candidate who legitimately is interested in acting as the speaker, a position that is one of the most prestigious and powerful on Capitol Hill, in line to the presidency behind only the vice president. Yet nobody is interested in taking on the responsibility of leading Congress.

If that’s not a profound affirmation of how alienating and polarizing our politics have become, I don’t know what is.

Gabriel Hicks, Eden Prairie

• • •

Here is the question. If the Republicans cannot unite their own party, how do they think they can unite the nation?

Jo Brinda, Crystal

 

2016 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION

We’ve sunk so low: Candidates are pandering on late-night TV

It has become disturbing to watch those running for the most powerful political office in the world — in the world, folks! — pandering to the lowest common denominator of voter by appearing on “Saturday Night Live,” Jimmy Fallon, Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Kimmel, etc., where there is little, if any, serious discussion of politics or positions and instead scripted, albeit often painful, attempts to elicit laughter.

Really, America, is this how seriously we’re taking the 2016 election? Using social media and late-night TV to “inform” voters? Sorry, but Hillary Clinton and the mistress of twerk, Miley Cyrus, sharing the stage on SNL inflamed my ire — and disgust.

Voters: Choose NPR, CNN, FOX, MSNBC, CBS, ABC, NBC, Sunday morning political talk shows, etc., and other live debates where candidates are actually interviewed. Try reading several newspapers in an attempt to find balance in their political editorializing. None is funny, and none is entertaining, but neither is the condition of the world.

I think we Americans embarrass ourselves ­— over and over. The office of president of the United States of America deserves more respect.

Vicki Roberts, Eden Prairie

 

MINNEAPOLIS SCHOOL BOARD

Study sessions in private are useful, even necessary

As a former member of the Minneapolis school board who is deeply committed to good governance of our public schools, I was disappointed by the Star Tribune’s characterization of board study sessions as a way to dodge public accountability (“Avoiding quorum lets school board stay private,” Oct. 8). In my experience, that could not be further from the truth. The sessions are a necessary tool to support a more informed public discussion and decisionmaking process.

Unlike the City Council or the state Legislature, when it is in session, the school board is not a full-time body. Most members have other full-time jobs. They do not have the luxury of an independent research department or the administrative support available to most elected officials. Moreover, they are tasked with the oversight of the most complex and contentious public institution in our community. It is an overwhelming job.

Small study sessions enable members to take the time to understand the complexity of an issue, to examine data and to ask as many questions of staff as necessary to be fully informed. Study sessions build the capacity of board members to be in command of facts, figures and options in order to later make consequential decisions. I support open-meeting laws as much as the next person, but if we want our school board to make good decisions, please understand that they need somewhere away from the lights and cameras to learn.

Pam Costain, Minneapolis

 

MINNESOTA TWINS

What to do about Joe Mauer? A couple more suggestions

Thanks to Jim Souhan for weighing in on the “Mauer Problem” (“A solution to the Mauer problem,” Oct. 9) “As immovable as a redwood” I think sums up the situation nicely. The fact that in a competitive market for baseball talent, Ol’ Joe might not even get a tryout.

Bringing many mitts to spring training is one option, but here’s another: In exchange for an ownership interest in the club, he can forgo a (large) chunk of his salary, the weight of which compels management and ownership to play him in the slot they have been. I think this takes pressure off Joe at the same time and could be the catalyst that allows him start to rebuild what everyone assumed was a Hall of Fame career. It gets him out of the way and gives ownership and management room to maneuver.

Not sure if this is unprecedented or even allowed, but, Joe, you are the only one who can solve this problem.

Dennis Williams, St. Paul

• • •

Another solution vis-à-vis “the Mauer problem”: The Twins management should bite the bullet, take a big swig off the bottle, gulp a couple of times, then pay Mauer the balance owed on his contract. Handshakes all around and start the 2016 season unencumbered.

Fred L. Klein, Minnetonka

 

INTERSTATE 394

Thanks for a quieter ride

While everyone hates road construction season, hats off to the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) for its innovative “noise deadening” technique on Interstate 394. The moment you hit the treated section of the highway, there is a noticeable reduction in road noise. While the construction period was painful, the outcome was delightful. Thank you, MnDOT.

Stephen M. Dent, Golden Valley