Regarding the state's $17 billion surplus ("State's surplus swells to $17.6 billion," Dec. 7): This last election was partially a referendum on how President Joe Biden handled inflation. The one action he took that economists said may have increased inflation was providing another round of pandemic stimulus funds to the nation. The remedy for inflation is interest rate hikes to stifle the overheated economy. In light of those events, would it be wise to give every Minnesotan a personal slice of the state budget surplus? How can the Legislature use the budget surplus to stimulate the state economy without overheating the national economy again? This should be the question debated in every state with a budget surplus, or we'll be in for many more rounds of interest rate hikes.
Wendy Eidukas, St. Paul
The Dec. 7 headline read "State surplus swells to $17.6 billion." The first paragraph of the article read, in part, that this surplus "is triggering a flood of ideas for how to spend the extra cash."
This is not "extra" cash — it is over-taxation. Don't fund more programs that will be underfunded in the future, just eliminate the tax on Social Security and lower all taxes so you don't have this surplus in the future. It is just that simple.
Aaron Kubasch, Winsted, Minn.
GEORGIA RUNOFF ELECTION
The gift of leadership
Ho! Ho! Ho! Jolly ol' Santa came early to Georgia this year. And he brought great gifts! ("Democratic Sen. Warnock wins Georgia runoff against Walker," StarTribune.com.)
He brought the good people of Georgia a real senator — not a toy one. He brought the gift of state pride — that, when faced with a choice between a person of substance or someone else, Georgians stepped up. Finally, he brought Herschel Walker a gift too. Santa gave Mr. Walker the opportunity to show that he really is a person of integrity; that he understands our best American tradition of conceding an election with grace and poise. (Hopefully, Mr. Walker will appreciate this gift of the moment.)
Merry Christmas, Georgia!
Richard Masur, Minneapolis
Clarifying the record
I am the lead attorney for the plaintiffs in the Cruz-Guzman lawsuit, which D.J. Tice discussed in his column on Dec. 4, "Who's afraid of the DFL?" Tice made the inaccurate statement that charter schools "warn that their freely chosen schools would become 'constitutionally infirm' under the Cruz-Guzman reasoning even though they are academically 'killing it,' as even the plaintiffs' lawyer admits ... ." I never made such a statement or held such views, as Tice now recognizes and has graciously acknowledged in an editor's note in the online version of his column, which no longer contains this inaccuracy. I think it is important, however, for the readers of the actual paper edition to know this.
Although there are a small number of charter schools that outperform traditional public schools, the vast majority do not. Charter schools are in no sense "killing it." Nor have I ever said they were.
Daniel Shulman, Minneapolis
The plan needs to actually work
The Star Tribune Editorial Board's piece advocating a reinstatement of the assault weapon ban is more of the same — emotional arguments to just "do something" ("Time to reinstate assault weapon ban," editorial, Dec. 1). Unfortunately, the argument ignores the fact that doing something should be focused on what will work — and as the Editorial Board itself acknowledges, another law alone cannot be expected to resolve the crisis that is gun violence.
What can work, and what was ignored by the Editorial Board? Holding offenders accountable through incarceration, thus preventing those who have already shown their proclivity toward gun violence from having the opportunity to reoffend.
It boggles the mind that this approach is not recognized or prioritized with more regularity.
In Minnesota alone, between 2015 and 2020, only half (51.5%) of the offenders who were convicted of using a firearm in commission of their crime were sentenced to the mandatory minimum of three years in prison as directed by statute. Even more troubling, of the 48.5% of gun offenders who received a departure from the mandatory sentence, a full third of them (34%) were already on court-mandated supervision at the time of their new gun crime.
We can all agree that gun violence and mass shootings are reprehensible and deserve the strongest of responses from our criminal justice system.
We cannot continue to ignore the failings of our judicial system and the public safety that would be achieved if we just held the offenders we already have in our grasp accountable.
Ignoring the huge gap in accountability toward those who have already proven their willingness for gun violence is not the response we deserve.
Emotionally driven arguments that take our eyes off this gap are the definition of illogical and will continue to serve us poorly.
David Zimmer, Golden Valley
The writer is public safety policy fellow, Center of the American Experiment.
AARP DRIVING COURSES
Make the classes more senior-friendly
In regard to the AARP driving refresher courses ("Driving courses for 55+ are underused," Dec. 5): I have taken them every three years since age 55. I am now 82 and have decided not to retake the class.
My first class was free and offered through community education for AARP members. Later on I dropped my AARP membership but found a free "55 Alive" class at a local community bank. Seniors live on fixed incomes, and though there is a 10% insurance reduction if you complete the course, the incentive is not worth the cost of going to an evening class and paying a class fee. Most seniors I know don't like to drive at night, which is when community education classes are offered. Another reason for the low class enrollment is that most older people do not read the community education catalogs. There has to be a better way to get the word out.
Additionally, the drivers on the roads today are speeding, rude and do not respect road rules. They should all be taking a refresher class every three years, not just seniors.
Sandra Haegele, Orono
Thank you, Metro Transit
I write to extend my gratitude for the Metro Transit bus and light-rail operators. I have been riding the bus and light rail more this year than last year and I have had excellent experiences every time. The Orange Line up Interstate 35W is luxurious and peaceful. I especially appreciate the heated waiting areas and the electronic signs indicating when the next bus will arrive. I encourage every resident of our city to try out the bus or light rail again or for the first time. Thank you, Metro Transit!
Evan Mulholland, Minneapolis