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 Response Page - Blazar  Interview -      

These comments are responses to the questions listed below,
which were generated in regard to the
Bill Blazar Interview of

The Questions:
On a scale of (0) most disagreement, to (5) neutral, to (10) most agreement, please indicate how you rate the following options 

1. (4.7 average response) Minnesota's $6 billion budget gap can be filled without raising taxes or cutting services.

2.  (8.0 average response) Across-the-board increases in the state's individual income tax will harm the Minnesota economy.

3. (7.5 average response) State payments to individuals, such as the homestead credit, should be based on income.

4. (7.8 average response) Medicaid should be reformed to reward families who choose lower-cost/better-quality providers.

George Crolick  (7.5)  (10)  (7.5)  (7.5)

R.C. Angevine  (0)  (7.5)  (10)  (10)

Anonymous  (7.5)  (5)  (7.5)  (7.5)

1. Budget gap. We must redesign our fiscal system in MN. I think that raising taxes and cutting services play a role but should play a much smaller/different role. 

4. Medicaid. How do you choose lower-cost/better-quality providers when the information on costs/quality is non-existent or should I say not transparent? Who determines quality? We're not buying electronics we're buying services and relationships to improve our health.  If we're talking the difference in choosing emergency/urgent care vs. standard office visits we need to educate families on preventative care too.

Tim Utz  (5)  (10)  (0)  (5)

1. Budget gap. The shortfall is likely 8-10 billion. As in 2008 I propose state cuts across the board to balance the budget, equally distributed to every payment. All employees receiving some form of state payments including administration executives as an example would have reduced compensation of 15% This is simple, yes, but making actions complicated just provides for special treatment by powerful lobby groups. Education has been given a pass for 4 years now on balancing efforts, yet education is 50% of the budget, and [does] not allow layoffs. This could be done in the first 2 weeks of session. Then, spend the balance of session bringing our state functions within the Constitutional limits.

3. Individuals. Our constitution clearly prohibits taxation or special tax credit privilege of various classes of citizen. Taxes are constitutionally required [to be] equally applied without regard of class. 

Ray Schmitz  (0)  (2.5)  (5)  (10)

1. Budget gap. One question that is never asked is "how much of the state business climate is dependent upon government spending?   When I was in the navy one trick the base did was to pay in $2.00 bills and then go to merchants with the message about how much the base was worth.  Currently road and construction is being driven by state/local projects; tax money is needed for these. 

2. Income tax. Adjusting the rates to tax fairly will be a better solution. Why not sunset the increase on high income? All those rich guys who will move to N. Carolina probably will not do so for a few years since their houses will not sell. 

3. Individuals. Interesting, in some ways it already is because of the value difference. 

4. Medicaid. Mayo shows that works.

Ray Ayotte  (7.5)  (10)  (7.5)  (10)

W.D.(Bill) Hamm  (10)  (10)  (7.5)  (10)

1. Budget gap. We have multiple options including, but not limited to, the ending of the Racist Drug war, most particularly the use of the non-lethal herb Marijuana. The potential savings here alone is in the Billion a year range. If you figure in the Jim Crow aspects of this and the way it undermines communities of color the potential savings increase considerably. For those too ignorant to understand the racist aspects of this, take a long look at conviction rates and sentence lengths by race. That honest evaluation leads to the very real conclusion that both our police forces and our court systems are still flagrantly and openly racist. 

2. Income tax. The public sector should never be allowed to think they are inflation proof, 10% unemployment in the private sector should correspond to a very similar figure in the public sector. As tax revenues fall so should expenditure along the same lines. 

3. Individuals. While I as a rural resident like my homestead credit and want you citiots to keep your damn hands off it, I do see many 6-figure and above individuals benefiting unnecessarily and disproportionately. 

4. Medicaid. That's only half the battle. We need aggressive attacks against the White Collar fraud in this program.

Bert LeMunyon  (7.5)  (10)  (10)  (10)

1. Budget gap. This won't happen unless organized labor is on board.

ken smart  (7.5)  (10)  (10)  (10)

1. Budget gap. This would have to be done through productivity gains - but I believe the public employee unions will block such efforts. 

2. Income tax. Quite frankly, Minnesota's individual income tax has already harmed Minnesota's economy as hundreds of companies have moved out of state in the past 20 years.  Not only does this mean less tax revenue, it means fewer jobs and lower economic vitality for the state.  The fact that it will take until 2014 to recover the jobs lost in the past recession is as much about Minnesota's tax structure as it is about the economy.  Other parts of the United States will recover jobs far more quickly - think low tax states such as Texas. 

3. Individuals. One can argue there should be no homestead credits, but if one exists, it certainly should be targeted to lower income households but also limited to moderately valued properties - say $250,000 or less. 

4. Medicaid. Absolutely need innovation in Medicaid to rein in costs.

David Gay  (7.5)  (10)  (7.5)  (7.5)

1. Budget gap. Need to cut the rate of spending growth. Some services probably should be cut.  Phase out LGA over 10 years. Put the onus on city governments to account for their spending to the residents who pay the taxes. 

2. Income tax. Personal spending and investment grows the economy. 

3. Individuals. If tax rates were lower, we wouldn't need perverse incentives like homestead credit, job Z, etc. to correct for over-taxation. 

4. Medicaid. While this sounds like a good idea, I don't see a way it can be done without spending the same amount of money. While the HSA will help create an incentive for purchasing lower cost/better services, the state will still be spending the same money as the expensive low cost services.

Anonymous  (7.5)  (7.5)  (0)  (7.5)

Dave Broden  (7.5)  (2.5)  (7.5)  (10)

1. Budget gap. There is also the ideas related redesign which may be considered cutting services by some but it is really reallocation of how we do and pay for services etc. Also even though Blazer states that jobs will not be back until 2014 he had almost no attention on growth to get Minnesota going again. Simply put, either someone begins to talk about rebuilding the economy and partnering with business to grow [or] no matter what we do we will have continuation of the same. I was shocked by the lack of reference to growth. 

2. Income tax. Lets get off the opinion that income taxes are bad and talk of total tax and total fees  and how they are applied. 

3. Individuals. This is a reasonable approach to many activities. 

4. Medicaid. This concept if it can be matured and applied offers many very positive ideas. To make it work we need to perhaps have some similar focus on the whole range of various heath care services.

Bob White  (2.5)  (10)  (7.5)  (10)

Anonymous  (0)  (5)  (10)  (7.5)

2. Income tax. The parallel question is if more shifts and other fiscal gimmicks will cause even more damage to the long term health of the state economy.  Anyone paying even marginal attention to the last several years of "no new tax" rhetoric could easily realize that the debt passed forward by phony solutions the past few years are adding billions in debt problems during the next several bieniums. 

3. Individuals. One way to reduce state expenditures is to quit paying benefits to those who don't need them. 

4. Medicaid. The devil is in the details; the how this might work remains to be seen.

Anonymous  (0)  (7.5)  (5)  (7.5)

Peter Hennessey  (5)  (10)  (10)  (2.5)

1. Budget gap. How is this thing any different from your own household budget?    In the immediate short term your choices are either raise taxes, cut expenses, or both. But this way you are only shooting yourself in the foot. Tax payers suffer under the increased load; recipients suffer because of reduced aid. Bureaucrats stay safe in their cushy jobs, [and] they are the last ones to feel the pinch.    In the long term, you must cut tax rates so you will reward effort and therefore see more people paying taxes. Remember, under Reagan the federal revenue DOUBLED despite rates being cut to about half. I don't know if MN can arrange for a "bridge loan" while the long term benefits are realized; on the federal level they just blatantly accept unending deficits. 

2. Income tax. They always do, especially at the State and local level. And will always backfire as long as people are free to vote with their feet. Heck, nowadays there are new reports about Americans renouncing their citizenships for this very reason.    Government does not produce anything, it does not add to the GNP. It uses resources siphoned off the productive sector. Government at all levels must accept the fact that because of the very purpose for their existence they are parasites on the private economy. Therefore they must make sure they suck no more of their host's blood than absolutely necessary to achieve what little good they do, or else they will kill their host. This is where we are with the federal government right now, made worse by their unlimited growth of debt far into future generations. The least a State can do is let the host live and prosper so the tax load will not seem excessive. 

3. Individuals. Don't we have means testing for just about everything anymore? I mean, if you are going to set up a Marxist program, do it right. On the other hand, what the heck is a homestead credit? Would it not be cheaper to stop doing things according to Marx and just practice laissez-faire free enterprise -- no overtaxation, no subsidies, no armies of paper pushers administering the subsidies?    On the federal level, several years ago some famous icons of the media, as well as huge agribusinesses, were revealed to be recipients of huge amounts in farm subsidies for NOT growing anything on their lands. Clearly that is a gross misuse of taxes, especially when family farms are being exterminated by the inheritance tax. 

4. Medicaid. This is too complex to be put on a scale like this. Most people who have no choice but to go on Medicaid are not equipped to make a choice like this. Providers are not always willing to see patients whose only insurance is Medicaid, because of the lower reimbursement rates. So what happens is that these patients are served either by the rare dedicated overworked soul who accepts the lower rates, or by a less qualified professional who needs to gain experience or the volume to get by until his own condition improves. This is one place where one would expect the State to provide guidance and route patients to lower cost, higher quality providers, but we all know that is a pipe dream. The State's model always ends up being the VA or the free clinic or the overcrowded ER, all of which, with very few exceptions, are famous for impersonal, assembly line care.    A free market alternative would be to permit the sale of truly portable, low cost, bare bones insurance so that a patient would really be able to stay with his favorite doctor.

Robert Freeman  (7.5)  (7.5)  (7.5)  (10)

1. Budget gap. A state tax overhaul is long overdue.  We should redesign both our taxation policies and provision of government programs.  Implementing drastic changes to the way we provide these services will mean the next governor appointing real visionaries (not big donors or other cronies) as commissioners and getting buy-in from legislators. 

4. Medicaid. Medicaid is hemorrhaging money every year as a result of perverse incentives.  We pay for quantity, not quality.  PCA services are out of control, as is end-of-life spending.  The state should scrap the fee-for-service system and either privatize all the services or ensure they operate in the same fashion as a private company.  Otherwise we are just wasting billions of taxpayer dollars.

Dennis L. Johnson  (10)  (10)  (7.5)  (10)

David Johnson  (0)  (10)  (10)  (0)

1. Budget gap. Services cost money, taxes raise money, either services are cut or taxes must be raised to sustain the current level of services. 

2. Income tax. The tax burden needs to be more evenly distributed. We have allowed too many who receive services to pay nothing for them.  Absolutely everyone with any income should pay something in taxes. 

3. Individuals. These payments need to go away, they are unnecessary. 

4. Medicaid. Cut Medicaid to individuals who create their own health problems - smokers, drinkers, the obese.

Mary  Jane Morrison   (0)  (7)  (8)  (5)

Donald H. Anderson   (3)  (8)  (8)  (5)

We are living in a global society, yet we want to act like we are all alone, both globally and nationally. The solution calls for actions that are innovative and new, not changes of current practices.

Ray Cox   (7)  (10)  (10)  (10)

Bill's comments about a world wide economy should be well taken. Public sector compensation is now far, far ahead of private sector employment and is unsustainable.

Tom Triplett   (0)  (6)  (9)  (5)

Chuck Lutz   (3)  (5)  (8)  (9)


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.

   Verne C. Johnson, chair;  David Broden, Charles Clay, Marianne Curry, Bill Frenzel, Paul Gilje,  Jim Hetland,  Marina Lyon, Joe Mansky, John Mooty,  Jim Olson,  and Wayne Popham 

The Civic Caucus, 01-01-2008
8301 Creekside Circle #920,   Bloomington, MN 55437.
Verne C. Johnson, chair, 952-835-4549,       Paul A. Gilje, coordinator, 952-890-5220.

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