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 Response Page - Blazar / Kadoun  Interview -      
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These comments are responses to the questions listed below,
which were generated in regard to the
Bill Blazar & Beth Kadoun Interview of


Minnesota's spending and tax structure should reflect changes in the state's demographics and the impact of the world economy, say Bill Blazar and Beth Strinden Kadoun of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce. The state has made some strategic changes in its tax structure in past years, but in general the tax system has not kept up with technological, global, economic and demographic changes. The state has not made enough progress on reforms on the spending side. They believe tax reform should be a revenue-neutral solution. Otherwise, the discussion turns quickly to how to raise more revenue, rather than how best to restructure the tax system. The ultimate goal of tax and spending reform, they say, should be to ensure a system that encourages economic change and growth, job creation and retention, and a high quality of life for all Minnesotans. Compared with other states, Minnesota ranks low on various business climate measures due to high overall business costs. They suggest the following changes the state could make to improve the tax structure: (1) Broaden the consumer base and lower the rate of the sales tax; (2) Treat online retailers the same as "main street" retailers in collecting sales taxes; (3) Get rid of the upfront capital equipment sales tax paid by businesses; (4) Don't let the individual income tax rate get too high compared with our border states; and (5) Further reduce the disparities between property taxes paid by businesses and those paid by other properties. 

For the complete interview summary see:

Response Summary: Readers have been asked to rate, on a scale of (0) most disagreement, to (5) neutral, to (10) most agreement, the following points discussed by Bill Blazar and Beth Strinden Kadoun. Average response ratings shown below are simply the mean of all readersí zero-to-ten responses to the ideas proposed and should not be considered an accurate reflection of a scientifically structured poll.

1. Separate tax reform and spending. (7.3 average response) Combining proposed tax reform and spending in the same package makes it difficult to isolate and evaluate actual changes in tax policy.

2. Analyze spending on merits. (7.3 average response) Moreover, proposed spending should be analyzed on its merits, not as part of tax reform.

3. Set sales tax rate after needs known. (6.0 average response) First lawmakers should calculate a revenue-neutral sales tax rate that gives the same level of revenue as last year but is applied to a broadened list of goods and services now subject to the tax. Second, they should decide how much new revenue from the broadened sales tax will be needed and set the final rate accordingly.

Response Distribution:

Strongly disagree

Moderately disagree


Moderately agree

Strongly agree

Total Responses

1. Separate tax reform and spending.







2. Analyze spending on merits.







3. Set sales tax rate after needs known.







Individual Responses:

Ray Ayotte (7.5) (10) (7.5)

Dave Broden (10) (10) (10)

1. Separate tax reform and spending. Anyone who knows anything about Ö establishing an approach to any subject knows that linking two topics like revenue and spending is not a solution to either but only bolsters both. Proceeding with both independently and then balancing the two in [a] rigorous decision process is an approach that will gain traction and support resulting in long term solutions.

2. Analyze spending on merits. Agree and spending must be linked to objectives and outcomes as well as the method of achieving the outcome.

3. Set sales tax rate after needs known. Strongly agree. [It is] common sense to establish how to obtain revenue and where it should come from and a framework for a 21st century tax structure with appropriate assumptions.

Chris Brazelton (7.5) (7.5) (7.5)

2. Analyze spending on merits. All spending should be evaluated on merit. Fund what works; evaluate all programs on a cyclical basis.

3. Set sales tax rate after needs known. Focus on stability; rebuild the "rainy day" fund during prosperous times to cover needs during lean times. We have never recovered from Ventura administration's gutting of that fund.

Anonymous (7.5) (7.5) (2.5)

Bruce A. Lundeen (10) (10) (5)

Scott Halstead (5) (0) (5)

1. Separate tax reform and spending. It is time for many of the wealthy individuals and very large businesses in Minnesota and elsewhere to reform. They are masters in tax avoidance and not very good citizens. The nationís debt has soared because of the Bush tax cuts and tax reforms along with not paying for wars and not regulating the financial industry and shipping jobs overseas. They are transferring their share of the tax onto everyone else. Businesses are seeking maximum tax breaks from communities. It is time for the Chamber and Business Roundtable to be real Americans.

2. Analyze spending on merits. We need real balanced budgets and not kick the can down the road [as] legislation of the past several administrations. Where was the chamber when legislators robbed the schools and raised everyone's property taxes? Cigarette tax money. Where is your oversight of spending on transit money in the Twin Cities? Hop on that 15 mph train that won't get you to where there is job growth.

3. Set sales tax rate after needs known. We need well-balanced tax and spending policies, which includes broadening the items taxed and not businesses crying to go to Wisconsin or South Dakota to avoid the tax. Whoever buys the product or service pays the tax. The Chamber could advocate for a national Internet tax with a [percentage] to each state to level the playing field. How about advocating for the medical industry changing their policies so our medical care provided better results and lower costs? Businesses and individuals would benefit greatly.

Don Anderson (7.5) (5) (7.5)

Anonymous (7.5) (10) (0)

3. Set sales tax rate after needs known. This approach will inevitably lead to an increase, since needs are inexhaustible.

Tim Utz (10) (0) (0)

1. Separate tax reform and spending. Tax policy should reflect the legal constraints of Constitutional state government. We long ago lost application of this critical check against tyrannical, excessive, and bloated state government. Individuals and organizations all want a piece of the government pie, but expect other private commerce to flip the bill in targeted taxation. If we actually hold to Constitutional authorized government, we all sleep better at night, having an appropriate affordable level of taxation spread across our state economy.

2. Analyze spending on merits. Spending should never be analyzed on "its" merits. The term "merits" is relative to the beholder and everyone can assign critical merits to "their" spending request. Our state Constitution clearly specifies the limits of civil authority and parameters for spending.

3. Set sales tax rate after needs known. This statement has a flawed assumption [that] the current tax rates and spending are constitutionally legal, appropriate and not overbearing, a direct conflict with the panel discussion of tax rates in Minnesota. I could agree with the quote "Set sales tax rate after needs known" if the DFL and GOP political party machines along with their elected officials actually governed within the restrictions of our state Constitution, the Bible for civil government defining the term, limit, meaning and definition of "needs". The current definition of "needs" at state government is what special interest lobbyists define.

David G. Dillon (10) (10) (10)

1. Separate tax reform and spending. I doubt many responding to this survey are "low information voters" and lots of us are struggling to sort it out. Makes you wonder if this is intentional.

3. Set sales tax rate after needs known. Be rational and transparent? Oh please.

Ralph Brauer (0) (5) (5)

1. Separate tax reform and spending. From a systems perspective this is ridiculous. Taxes and spending are interrelated parts of Minnesota's government system. To treat them as separate is like Solomon's threat to cut the baby in half or a business discussing expenses and revenue separately. I doubt any member of the Chamber operates like that, nor should state government. Clearly a lack of understanding of how systems work.

2. Analyze spending on merits. Spending should always be analyzed on its merits, but again, revenue and spending are interrelated.

3. Set sales tax rate after needs known. This sounds like a shell game to me. In this rapidly changing economic climate, what is the benchmark for revenue-neutral? We are currently in a deflationary economy much like the late nineteenth century Great Deflation. We need to plan accordingly. It is not on here as a question, but in the interview the Chamber comments on the deteriorating quality of the Minnesota workforce. The Chamber needs to look in the mirror. This is directly due to cuts in education, which the Chamber championed because it did not want to raise taxes. Now we are paying for their shortsightedness, which interestingly shows the same lack of systemic understanding as many of these proposals.

Bob Fox (10) (10) (10)

Donald Ritchie (na) (na) (na)

Another great post. Thanks.

John Adams (10) (10) (8)

This was a very useful and informed discussion.

Tim Hall (na) (na) (na)

If the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce really cared about small businesses and taxes they would stop lobbying for trains. The trains are in conflict with small businesses. People should stop doing business with them until they stop pushing for the trains.

Lyall Schwarzkopf (9) (9) (8)

Dave Hutcheson (8) (8) (9)

Some ambitious ideas for more work near the end: a new business model for the public sector, and identifying reasons for decline in workforce quality . . . when and where does one start with these?

Tom Spitznagle (6) (8) (5)

Al Quie (9) (10) (10)

Mike Germain (na) (na) (na)

Why does anyone [care] what the MN Chamber of Commerce have to say?

Chuck Lutz (5) (5) (1)

Tom Swain (6) (8) (7)

Larry Schluter (8) (7) (9)

We need tax reform but letís do it right this time.

Anonymous (0) (0) (0)

Bert LeMunyon (7.5) (10) (5)

3. Set sales tax rate after needs known. I do not think the sales tax should include food and clothing.


The Civic Caucus   is a non-partisan, tax-exempt educational organization.   The Core participants include persons of varying political persuasions,
reflecting years of leadership in politics and business. Click here  to see a short personal background of each.

   David Broden,  Janis Clay,  Bill Frenzel,  Paul Gilje,   Jan Hively,  Dan Loritz (Chair),  Marina Lyon,  Joe Mansky, 
Tim McDonald,  John Mooty,  Jim Olson,  Wayne Popham  and Bob White

The Civic Caucus, 01-01-2008
2104 Girard Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55405.
Verne C. Johnson, chair, 952-835-4549,       Paul A. Gilje, coordinator, 952-890-5220.

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