“Do Nothing” Looking Better And Better

The new budget forecast is coming out today.

And it’s generally good news, showing that the GOP in the Legislature paid off hundreds of millions borrowed from schools, filled the budget reserves, and substantially reduced the structural deficit.

Not bad for a “do-nothing” legislature that started with a six billion dollar structural deficit, and was hobbled for two sessions by a governor who was operating under orders from his political mommy ex-wife to sandbag like his life depended on it, now, is it?

Tim Pugmire’s story at MPR quotes House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt…:

“Minnesotans are struggling in their lives and in their families and in their job situations,” Daudt said. “Our job is to make their life easier, not more difficult. So, if we do hit that fiscal cliff on the federal level and we double down and increase taxes on top of that, that’s only going to have a detrimental impact on our economy here in Minnesota, and it’s just going to make things more difficult for families here in Minnesota.”

…and Messinger marionette speaker of the house Paul Thissen:

But House Speaker-designate Paul Thissen countered that even families need to account for inflation as part of prudent budgeting. No matter what the forecast shows, lawmakers must come up with more than another temporary fix, said Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis.

Families, unfortunately, don’t have the ability to extort more money out of their employers.  Unless they’re government union employees, naturally.

“My hope is that we’re not just budgeting to the forecast, but we’re stepping back and actually creating a budget that’s going to work for the long-term stability of the state,” Thissen said.

In other words, if things improve we need to increase taxes and spending, and if they don’t, we’ll need to increase taxes and spending.

This DFL majority may be the best thing to ever happen to business in western Wisconsin.

28 thoughts on ““Do Nothing” Looking Better And Better

  1. Kind of like …if you have a budget surplus, cut taxes. If you have a budget deficit, cut taxes. I am sure it all comes down to yogurt some how in the end.

  2. False equivalency, Mr. Mindeman. A person is entitled to the fruits of their labor, the government is not entitled to their labor.

  3. If you use highways, should you not pay for it? If bridges and sewers and street lights and curbs and sidewalks and zoning and police and fire protection and parks and recreational facilities and kids sports programs…are all necessary. Who pays for it? It is not giving the government the “fruits of your labor”; it is paying for the services you require and want. And speaking of “fruits of your labor” – how much real fruit is the $100 million CEO’s get for their “labor” when compared to the $35,000 working stiffs. Is that “fruit” equivalent?

  4. Mr. Mindeman, you are confusing public and private money. Perhaps you are not so far gone that you know that there is a difference.
    Where I live I pay for my local streets. I have no sewer service. I have no county, state, or city supplied water. Not everyone lives in an urban or suburban area.
    Please don’t use the word ‘you’ when you mean ‘other people’.

  5. Dave,

    So many strawmen. So little time.

    If you use highways, should you not pay for it? If bridges and sewers and street lights and curbs and sidewalks and zoning and police and fire protection and parks and recreational facilities and kids sports programs…are all necessary. Who pays for it?

    Wait – are you claiming I, and conservatives, not only pay no taxes, but claim that there is no need for government or government services?

    I pay taxes. Lots of them. And I’m fine with government – I’d just prefer to have the right amount of it, as opposed to “as much as the DFL and its special interests want to have”.

    And as a taxpayer, I feel perfectly suited to tell government, and other voters, what “Services” I “require and want”, or how much of them.

    It is not giving the government the “fruits of your labor”; it is paying for the services you require and want.

    Well, to a point. But it’s also paying for a lot of things that other people “require and want”. For example, I’ll be working until I’m 70 so that public school teachers and government administrators and city council aides can retire at 48 or 50. Does that seem fair?

    And yes, whether you like it or not, taxes ARE taking the “fruit of our labor”. We consent to some of it; that doesn’t mean we don’t have the right and obligation to push back when it is excessive. As, under Democrats, it always is.

    And speaking of “fruits of your labor” – how much real fruit is the $100 million CEO’s get for their “labor” when compared to the $35,000 working stiffs. Is that “fruit” equivalent?

    I’m not sure what you mean by that. Why shouldn’t someone who chose of their own free will to spend their life working hard to master a field and rise to a level where they have a direct impact on a company’s stock price (which can affect your investments and mine) be paid accordingly? As compared to someone who, all other things being equal (including their overall worth in the eyes of God or whatever universal standard you believe in), made life choices that led to them working for $35K?

    Are you saying that there’s a universal entitlement for everyone’s “fruit” to be of equal value?

    If I understood you wrong, please clarify. Thanx.

  6. Dave Mindeman, property as gas taxes — as close to use taxes as we can get — cover the essential services.

    I’m just not sure why my taxes in Carver County should buy these things for ourselves AND the folks in Minneapolis and St. Paul, where the greater density there should make these things much more cost effective.

  7. So….where does public money come from if not from taxing private money? And where do you live that you private pay for local streets? Did you pay to have them constructed? maintained? Do you never use public roads? Just curious.

  8. So….where does public money come from if not from taxing private money?

    That’s pretty much it. And for those of us who work to earn private money, the idea that government considers our money *its* money (to the point that they call a tax cut an “expenditure”) is a thumb in the eye.

    And where do you live that you private pay for local streets?

    It happens all over the place.

    Do you never use public roads? Just curious.

    If he does, the gas tax will most likely cover it. indeed, if he’s paying for private roads AND paying for public roads via the gas tax, he’s carrying more of the weight than you are…

  9. In regards to salary compensation. How is there any kind of fairness where a CEO gets millions in salaries plus a golden parachute for failure. That does not meet any “fruits of labor” standard that I know of. I have yet to see a corporate exec who actually “worked” his way to the top. Most of them take the short cuts of family, who you know, exaggerating the books, and using the ideas of others. Most CEO’s spend their time trying to make sure employees get as little compensation as possible (because they are an expense item) and the more they cut back, the more they are compensated. And you use the idea of “life choices” as if our station in life is a simple choice. What about illnesses and disabilities and educational opportunities, and discrimination, and the favoritism, etc, etc. Conservatives use government as an excuse for capitalistic failures. Current Republican policies push us into a class system – government pushes back against that — especially government that really believes in the middle class. A return to pre-Bush tax rates for the top 2% is not going to harm their station in life. They have survived it before and if deficits truly are important, then adding revenue to pay it down makes perfect sense in a logical world.

  10. Mr Mindeman, I live in a privately constructed subdivision in Hawaii. I am not wealthy. The houses around here go for about $200k. I paid the local electric company — a government regulated utility — over $3k to hook my house up to power. The geography where I live, and the population density, combine to make both sewer and fresh water hookups uneconomical.
    This is not an unusual situation, particularly in the Western states of the U.S. mainland.
    The running joke around here is that property taxes are low (about a thousand bucks/yr on a $200k house) but they’re still a rip off since we get almost nothing for them.
    As Mr. Rothman wrote, public roads are paid for by gasoline taxes and license plate fees. They have a special fund for it and everything.
    You really need to start thinking about what different levels of government are supposed to do before you decide how much money each level needs. My problem is with a federal government that sees itself as having no bounds, which dictates (for example) that I use certain water-saving appliances when the water I’m saving is provided by me, at my expense, to be used only by me.

  11. I assume Mitch will be back to fisk the hell out of your 12:52 post, but let me have a whack at two things.

    How is there any kind of fairness where a CEO gets millions in salaries plus a golden parachute for failure. That does not meet any “fruits of labor” standard that I know of.

    Unless said CEO works for a publicly held company, and you are a stockholder of said company, it’s really none of your business. Unless you were somehow appointed the “fruits of labor” czar and the rest of us didn’t get the memo.

    Put another way — imagine if someone else’s “fruits of labor” standard rules, and for that individual the standard determines that liberal bloggers for MnpACT are producing something of de minimis value, presumably you wouldn’t object if the government took 100% of your income.

    If that doesn’t help you, let’s slightly change a statement you make and see if it makes sense:

    I have yet to see a liberal blogger who actually “worked” his way to the top. Most of them take the short cuts of family, who you know, exaggerating their intellectual acuity, and using the ideas of others.

    I’d go on, but I have important work to do in using my capitalist might to crush your dreams. Cheers!

  12. Mindeman said: “Most CEO’s spend their time trying to make sure employees get as little compensation as possible “

    give me a cite on that assertion.

    Of the CEOs that I’ve worked directly with they spend almost all their time doing everything they can to enhance long term shareholder value by providing high quality goods and services at fair market prices. If they take a struggling multimillion dollar company and turn it into a prosperous multi-billion dollar company and they want 100 million as compensation – don’t be a fool, give it to them.

    of course if you’re using HP as your example, you are correct, there is something wrong with that company and its board of directors.

  13. “Most of them take the short cuts of family, who you know, exaggerating the books, and using the ideas of others.”

    You mean like the ones that go into politics or form PACs, i.e. Governor Jim Beam Dayton, Alita Messenger, the Kennedy family, John Kerry. Should I go on? And,didn’t one of your lefty candidates base his whole campaign on the fact that he built a business from the ground up? How much money did he deserve when he sold AmericInn? Do you think that he didn’t pay minimum wages to as much of his staff as possible to accomplish that? How much should he get to keep and if he’s so concerned about the middle class that he wanted to replace Michele Bachmann, why doesn’t he just write a check? Just curious.

  14. Economics has a word for the ‘runaway CEO” problem, e.g., the problem that occurs when a corporate officer sees his his personal interests as being different from the board of investor representatives who hire him. It’s called the ‘principal-agent problem’: http://www.investopedia.com/terms/p/principal-agent-problem.asp#axzz2ECyS8joa.
    There is a similar problem in politics, where an elected representative is supposed to represent the interests of all of the people in his or her district, when those people have conflicting interests (and the pol has interests of his of her own).
    The American solution to this problem has been to limit the power of government at the federal level while making the most powerful branch (the House of rep.) the most democratic.

  15. “How is there any kind of fairness where a CEO gets millions in salaries plus a golden parachute for failure. ”

    I was thinking you were talking about Comrade Obama’s re-election, Mr. Mindeman. But if you must bring private business into it, do you trust your political opponents to make decisions for companies you’re involved with?

    Oh, you don’t? Well, neither do we.

  16. Dave has an interesting take on what it means to be a CEO, perhaps based on personal observation. I’ve got more than 30 years experience in the workforce, most of it with publicly traded companies. I think I’ve had about a dozen CEOs in that time, and I can’t think of one of them that reached the position in a way Dave describes.

    There is no low-hanging fruit in that career-path; it is intensely competitive and based on results. Almost to a man (and, so far it has been all men, though that may be about to change) these people have pretty much been the smartest guy in the room. They haven’t all been the warmest of people, but they’ve managed their way up through a series of progressively difficult levels of responsibility to get to that position. Sure, some had an advantage in their upbringing or backgrounds that helped them get into the schools and circles where they could be noticed, but that boost only goes so far when actual performance starts winnowing the herd of “thoroughbreds”. It’s not a lifestyle or ambition I’d embrace, but I understand the process. The company I presently work for is in an interesting time. Our founding CEO, a brilliant and unassuming sort who took a small, regional niche player and turned into a global power in 20+ years has set his retirement date. There has been tremendous jockeying among the group of likely successors, posted all over the world, to make their case for having the skills to lead the company. None are getting there by cutting staff; results require people (though especially in the right amounts) because the results they are judged on are not just what they did this year or last year, but how the company is positioned for the next decade. As I said, I couldn’t live like that.

    The “fruits of their labor” are, however, the fruits that the market determines. Nobody I’ve ever seen is getting the whopping options and golden parachutes because they have great hair, or who their daddy was.

  17. On the West Coast the ILWU has shutdown the ports with a strike.
    This is called ‘restraint of trade’, or it would be if the ILWU didn’t have a government-enforced monopoly on loading and unloading ships.
    It’s not easy find out how much these union longshoremen make. Most of the articles about the strike don’t mention the amount.
    They make $90k/yr.
    For driving forklifts.

  18. Your point is excellent, Terry. I believe that it was the clerks that initiated the port strike and they were making six figures in pay and benefits, but that wasn’t enough to file papers. As I have indicated in this forum previously, union slaves that actually review the financials of their local and national organizations to see what their presidents and management make off of their backs, learn that supporting right to work legislation would be a good thing for them!

  19. As far as local streets go, they are not paid for by gas tax or license plate fees. I get billed annually by the City of Saint Paul for maintenance of my residential streets and additionally for my alley. When reconstruction occurred, there was a special assessment against my property to par for that. Ditto street lights, curbs and sidewalks.

    The gas taxes and plate fees go to highways, trains and buses. (And they shouldn’t go to trains and busses, IMO) The only time they go for city streets is when the street is also a state highway. (i.e. Snelling from Montreal north to somewhere in Roseville.)

    And are kids sports programs a necessity? They weren’t when and where I grew up. They were an option. And they were funded by the interested parties, and the business community that wanted to be known for that.

  20. ditto, Loren.

    What I want to see is LRT riders pay their fair share. Anyone else? Mindeman?

  21. Somehow when libs bring up all the essential services the government the government ‘gives’ us taxpayers, they:
    A) demonstrate a poor understanding of what government is for, how it works, and how it is funded.
    B) Never mention ‘diversity officers’, or IRS agents. Did you know that IRS managers and collection agents get bonus payments based on how much money they dig out of reluctant taxpayers? Why, that’s how the Romans used to pay taxpayers, too!

  22. Bait and switch is wrong when business does it, standard operating procedure for liberals.

    like Loren, I already pay for streets, storm sewer, etc thru special assessments. I already pay for highways and bridges thru gas tax. I already pay for police and firefighters thru property tax. I already pay for teachers thru special levies. My house is assessed at 200,000 which is a cruel joke in this neighborhood, so my annual taxes are 3,000. I pay separately for water, sewer, gas, electric, cable TV, internet, telephone, recycling and garbage. When I installed vinyl windows, I paid the inspector.

    The tax increases Dave demands will_fund luxuries not necessities.

  23. The deficit is not $1.1 billion, it’s more like $3.75 billion.

    We need $1.1 billion to break even with planned spending, $2.4 billion to pay back the money we shorted-changed school districts in the last budget, and something for inflation because even if government employees go without a raise, the cost of everything from office supplies to blacktop still go up.

    We have our own fiscal cliff right here in Minnesota. Taxing the few remaining CEOs into poverty won’t cover it. What’s Plan B, Governor?

  24. “Do you use roads and sewers and clean water”…and green roofs, and financially unviable solar panel companies, and triply redundant Human Rights bureaucracies, and schools with a 60% success rate, and $300 million bus stops, and $50,000 water fountains, and bike trails, and empty choo-choo trains….

    Yeah, guess you got a point there, lefty. Unfortunately it’s at the top of your head.

  25. “The tax increases Dave demands will_fund luxuries not necessities…”

    Joe, let me finish the thought for you …for the sheeple who will vote for the DemocRATS to keep their hand in the working class pockets.”

    There, this looks much better.

  26. swiftee, please allow me to add: How about the wasteful spending on ethanol, which requires 17 gallons of clean water to create one gallon of a product that is inferior to gasoline in almost every aspect; less energy production, it’s so caustic that it screws up older engines (causing more pollution), can’t be transported in pipelines (that safest form of transport), but needs to be transported by trucks, which are powered with diesel fuel! Not to mention the fact that you do not want to live downwind from one of the plants when it’s in full operation, because they make feedlots smell like a bed of roses by comparison. Wow! That green technology is such a great investment!

  27. Dave:

    A big premise you have is that when we involve the government that things get better. I hate to correct you on this, but a lot of times government involvement makes things worse.

    I confess that I’m a government worker. We have a very unique office apparently in the United States. If you come to us you can do motor vehicle stuff, apply for a marriage license, get a drivers license, get birth certificates, apply for a passport and many more. We have been performing this service for years with no problem. Until basically about two years ago.

    Thanks to the lobbying from the state’s congressional delegation a federal passport office was opened in Minneapolis so our citizens didn’t have to go to Chicago if they were in a hurry to get their passport. Unfortunately for our office it bought a new set of federal officers who could observe and monitor our operations a lot more often and in a more hands down way. In the last two years they have forced the following changes on our services because of their concerns about making sure a passport doesn’t have fraud:

    * You finally decided to get an ID card or your fifteen year old has passed their written permit test don’t come to us. Even though we never had the data entry power on a first time application to create the DL identity with the state of Minnesota and never issued a plastic card that was too dangerous for us to be doing since that helps create a phony identity.

    * You love to pay with a credit card. Sorry you have to run and get yourself a money order or a check. A previous person had lobbied the old management structure of passports to allow us to create the seperate checks that each customer needed. That was taken away. Daily our office at least once a day or more has to chase away a customer not ready to pay with a check.

    * You’re sitting in our office waiting and waiting while other people you noticed that came in after you are getting called. You might even notice that there is a worker or two not calling numbers. Well to tell you a bad secret that is partially the fault of the passport people. You see in our office we had tried to train everybody for years to do every type of transaction so that person could help the person who has waited the longest. We can’t do that anymore. Because of their fraud concerns lets say our office has an employee Amy. Amy is allowed to do passports. Because Amy is allowed to do passports she is no longer able to help a person do a dl transaction (even if it’s a simple renewal) or to get the number for a person who needs to buy a death certificate. At the same time we have another employee lets call this one Karl who is quite happy to help you do your drivers license or sell you a birth certificate, but suddenly seems mean because he doesn’t want to help you do a passport. There are times literally everyday now when a passport employee like Amy can’t be helping us call a drivers license number or rare (but still happens) a customer waiting to do a passport that has the longest waiting time can’t be called because there are several people able to do a drivers license (who will love to end that poor person’s wait by the way) that can’t call that customers number because we were not allowed to do that.

    So Dave considering this small of example of how government can mess up our life you’re in no position to say that government is good and be allowed to grow.

    Walter Hanson
    Minneapolis, MN

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