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 Response Page - Arne Carlson  Interview -      

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

The Questions:

1. _4.9 average_____On a scale of (0) most disagreement, to (5) neutral, to (10) most agreement, what is your view on whether Minnesota's Governor and Legislature should seek additional federal stimulus money if a serious state budgetary shortfall is likely for the next biennium?

2. _8.3 average_____On a scale of (0) most disagreement, to (5) neutral, to (10) most agreement, what is your view on whether the Governor should make more use of special commissions to develop new ideas for addressing state problems?

3. Any matters missing in this summary that you wish would have been addressed? see responses below

Mark Ritchie
Great minutes; thanks.

Bert Press (10) (10)

Al Quie (0) (10)

David Dillon (0) (10)

Question 1: This is no small public policy proposal and deserves some sort of explanation as to how this could possible work. The obvious questions are: Will the other 49 states get $5 billion too? And, what of the already enormous, rapidly growing and vastly understated federal debt? The Governor hit it right on the head when he instructed our political leaders to: “Get used to living on less, and bring the public in.”

Bill Frenzel (0) (10)
Question 1: Nice try, but NO sale! The Federal Gov’t is in substantially worse shape than MN. It has spent its birthright; eaten its seed corn; and is about to devour its children. All MN can get from the Feds is silly earmarks like High Speed Rail Lines to nowhere; useless ethanol subsidies; or more unfunded mandates.

Question 2: Guv should do, and use, anything & everything that he/she thinks will help.

Kent Eklund (9) (9)
Question 3: Just impressed by how many leaders talk about the need to reattach the middle to the process -- the less passionate but connected middle.

Donald H. Anderson (7) (7)
Question 3: I especially liked his comment on public funding of campaigns, instead of the present special interests funding.

Rick Krueger (10) (10)
Question 1: By any reasonable assessment of our state budget, (including formal testimony from Pawlenty Administration Commissioners and the State Economist) the federal stimulus bailed the state out. Pawlenty does the public a disservice by dismissing this fact.

Question 2: More important that creating the commissions is avidly promoting key recommendations; in many cases the governors have me missing in action when it comes to actually promoting the changes that the commissions advocated.

Question 3: The most vexing issue of all is how do we create an political environment where candidates actually rely more on public policy concerns than campaign slogans.

Dane Smith (5) (7)
Question 2: Commissions are fine, there needs to be a commitment when they are established to follow through on their recommendations. Pawlenty sets them up and utterly ignores their verdicts, because the prescriptions are never fundamentally conservative enough.

John DeSantis, Jr. (8) (7)

Charles Lutz (10) (8)

David Alden (7) (9)

John Milton (10) (10)

Dick McGuire (5) (10)
Question 1: It’s not free money just because it’s fed money.

Question 3: Arne’s mind set is badly needed again.

Ray Schmitz (5) (8)
Question 1: Only if it is paired with real reforms.

Question 2: Again the goal must be real reform, for example the school closings in Anoka Hennepin, at least as far as is reported, are occurring in a vacuum, there could be a need in the adjacent districts for space but that is not part of the discussion. We should be changing boundaries to maximize efficiency, not to adhere to traditional lines that have become obsolete with changes in population. Cities and counties are the same.

Steven B. Hardie (10) (7.5)
Question 3: If the extremist in both (all) political parties is such a roadblock to progress in dealing with MN problems, how can we begin to marginalize the influence of party endorsements in elections? The population as a whole seems to recognize parties as part of the problem rather than part of the solution.

Paul H. Hauge (5) (10)
Question 3: Governor Arne works well as an independent non partisan advocate but we cannot continue to rely on the feds to bail the states out.

Don Fraser (9) (9)

Fred Senn (0) (10)

Question 3: Great interview. Arne has a lot of solid ideas on how to get us back on the right track.

Vici Oshiro (5) (10)
Question 2: Yes, consider. But consider does not equal form a commission or adopt their recommendations. If the parties who need to adopt the policy are unlikely to use the work of the commission there is no reason to convene one.

Peter Hennessey (0) (5)
I am sure this is one Republican that you can like. Unfortunately, he is the kind of Republican that is part of the problem, not the solution, for the simple fact that he is seeking solutions , "things that work," without having a standard by which to measure success or failure. It is not clear if he has learned anything from Ronald Reagan, that you start from principle, and you propose solutions derived from principle. In this case as in all cases if you start with the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, that principle if the free market and absolutely minimum interference in the free market by any level of government. That is not dogmatic, it is simply American.

Question 1: There is nothing good that comes from any "help" from the Feds, because they are not interested in helping, they always seek control. There are always onerous strings attached to federal money.

Question 2: Commissions have a spotty record for generating ideas, good ideas, or ideas that are actually accepted and implemented. Ideas generated by commissions are also greatly dependent on the participants on those commissions, and to the extent that a certain political fringe makes a virtue of hogging membership on commissions, you get a lop-sided set of recommendations in the guise of "expert" or "broad based" advice.

It always amazes me that any problem is always oh so complicated, and the solutions are oh so expensive, if you listen to the bureaucrats and experts, yet so simple when you listen to the common folk. If our leaders really have no ideas and need input, (1) why don't they hold public hearings and town hall meetings, and (2) why do they even stay in office?

In the American system of government, holders of public office are not rulers, they are servants elected (hired) to perform a necessary function of governance. If they can't do the job, they should step aside and let someone else try. Servants are not supposed to hang onto their office for the sheer pleasure of exercising power for power's sake, or get drunk on the illusion that they are doing some "good." Government does "good" when it protects the people from foreign enemies and domestic criminals. Everything else they do harms some citizens in the name of helping some others. Public servants are supposed to minimize the harm and maximize the good, and they do that by interfering the least in the business of the common folk, which is the free market.

Robert J. Brown (3) (3)
Question 1: If it appears that there is no other alternative in order to balance the budget I suppose this might be done. However, this is another of those short term fixes (like the shifting of payments of school aids) that just postpones the inevitable problems. It creates the same kind of problem that does the local government aid at the state level – the separation of the responsibility of raising the money from the authority to spend the money. States would then continue to cry to the feds for more bailouts in the future once the dependency is established.

Question 2: It might be a good idea if the Governor would get creative people on the commission and then follow up on their recommendations. For example, there were some excellent ideas in the Brandl-Weber group, but I recall that the Governor never fought for the recommendations even after they were toned done in the final presentation. More recently I served on education groups appointed by Governor Ventura and Governor Pawlenty and found the results disappointed because the special interest groups representing the education establishment dominated the task forces and prevented the majority report from proposing any real change.

Bill Kuisle (0) (5)
Question 1: We cannot ask our children to pay more to get us out of this mess.

Question 2: Most of these reports sit on a shelf and collect dust.

Joe Mansky (5) (5)
Question 1: Using additional stimulus money for one-time situations, like unemployment insurance payments, may be ok, but it’s not a long term solution.

Rick Bishop (8) (10)
Great discussion, especially the points about starting anew versus trying to remodel a worn out model. Also, I believe in utilizing the brain power of the citizens including commissions (though not sitting around admiring).

Question 3: Conversations about leadership as opposed to blaming those for getting things done as put forth by the late Bob Terry, a dear mentor of mine!

David Broden (0) (10)
Question 1: Another stimulus package will only shift the responsibility and increase the overall deficit. It is time for each state to make the reshaping decisions that will reflect the changes that will bring government in line with the overall economy. Passing the responsibility is the easy way out and does not lead to more accountability at all levels of government. If the national economy continues to be in a recessionary mode or have other problems then the national government must act at that level but not in a role to bail out the states. A state shortfall can only be resolved by a rethinking of how we do various services, who pays for what, etc. We should be able to work this without lowering our standard of living or quality of life--some innovative approaches will have to be done in how we do things and we need to be more aggressive in building a sustainable economy in the state.

Question 2: A level of 10 for this is perhaps not what I really mean--there needs to be more innovation from across the state and from all components of the diverse population and segments of the Mn economy. Ideas via commissions set up by the governor is one approach--I would like to see that groups of individuals and businesses--communities etc. move out without being lead by a government decree. Let's encourage new ideas from the bottom up. We need a mechanism that will encourage the formation of idea generating groups across the state without someone saying that a commission will be appointed and then we just get the same old hacks generating the same old ideas. A ranking of 10 is for special groups however they occur with the governor and legislature committed to listen to the ideas from all groups.

Question 3: I would like ask for ideas of how ideas for government change and the future of Mn can be stimulated from across the state without the need for a governor or legislative or other government focused group pushing. How can the individualist Mn mind be release to explore the ideas needed?? I am convinced that there are ideas and resources--let's turn them loose.

Ellen Brown (0) (10)
Question 1: object to pushing the problem up...or down with further LGA cuts. The Legislature needs to quit passing the buck.

Question 2: If they can be created without the heavy involvement of the well funded groups whose interests constitute the problem.

Question 3: Not missed, but just a seconding of the need for public financing of campaigns to be on the agenda, whether the League's or some other group....maybe a special commission. I am not clear what the recent Supreme Court decision means on this issue for Minnesota.

Bob White (1) (10)
Question 1: Not an awful idea, but probably futile.

Question 2: On this one, two ratings. For current governor, 5 -- because commissions couldn't report in time for him to act on them, and I doubt if he would pay much attention anyway. The important rating - 10 - is for future governors, who should certainly make more use of special commissions than has been the case in recent years.

Phil Herwig (0) (10)

Roger Heegaard (6) (6)

Bill Jungbauer (0) (5)

Question 2: As to your question on commissions, the first thing that came to mind was a quote, "Once a bureau is created, its staff becomes a tenacious political interest group, well placed to defend its budget and to make a case for expanding its activities." Robert Higgs

I do not mind commissions of any sort as long as they are disbanded once their purpose is fulfilled and they must have a well defined and reasonable purpose. The taxpayers should get plenty of bang for their bucks.

I must disagree with the comment "Dems wanting to tax—you could confiscate everything from the above-$500k crowd and still be unable to reconcile our budget gaps—and Republicans who want to ignore the seriousness of the problem." Concerning the budget deficit facing our state. Nothing could be further from the truth. Governor Pawlenty as well as Republican legislators in both the house and senate are very concerned about this issue.

The majority of the Republicans see the need for lower taxes on businesses in Minnesota. They recognize that we are losing businesses to other states. Take for example a proposed ethanol plant in southern Minnesota. Permit fees totaled roughly $30,000 in Minnesota. Across the border in Iowa, it was less than $400. Guess where the Ethanol plant was built.

Also, look at the comparison between Minnesota and the surrounding states in construction jobs lost over the past year,

Minnesota 17,200
Wisconsin 13,400
Iowa 8,400

Whereas in the Dakotas, where taxes are lower on businesses, things are looking better,

North Dakota 900
South Dakota +600

Yes, South Dakota saw a rise in construction jobs.

I would also like to add that if we are losing businesses, we are losing leaders in the business community. Something that the former governor stated is no longer present in current debate on state policies.

Shari Prest (5) (8)
Question 1: Seek it but don't depend on it , recognizing that whatever we get from the Federal gov. increases the National debt.

Question 2: Only as long as they are not political appointees all carrying the same partisan objectives. They must be free thinkers and a few policy wonks. They should come from all layers of society. It will be more difficult to generate "new thinking" when we go to the established "thinkers".

Question 3: I believe Governor Carlson's statesmanship has grown since he was in office. I support Governor Carlson's suggestion to focus on the big plan. We have been missing that in Minnesota through several administrations. We need a vision and we need it to be so well developed, publicly supported, and comprehensive that it will not die with elections. This can not be over-emphasized. Whether it relates to schools, health care, campaign regulation, markets. We are one state with many parts. We need a clear and compelling vision and a sustainable direction and a consistent drive.

Chris Wright (5) (5)
A non-partisan budget commission allowed to make budgetary recommendations from Independents and not just major party appointments might put some innovative ideas on the table before they are dismissed without consideration.

For instance, if you could regulate narcotics through prohibition it would be unprofitable to distribute, yet gangsters have been selling it for 100-years since prohibition began. Why not regulate the distribution of narcotics just like liquor instead of insisting on gangster distribution. Insisting on gangster distribution is not only reprehensible, since it subsidizes and bankrolls criminals, but it destoys public safety. Our state could raise necessary revenues, cut crime, and lower taxes on prisons and law enforcement. But I doubt the major parties would allow END THE DRUG WAR to be on the table. Of course, the reason alcohol prohibition was ended was because of the depression and the lack of government revenue. Perhaps our state could do the same.

It's obvious that a combination of austerity measures and revenue increases will have to be considered. Leadership requires making these tough decisions and the governor and legislature will have to work together.

We should put our economic house in order before asking any money from the federal government. Other states will have to do the same. Besides, last I heard the Fed is broke.

Jim Olson (10) (10)

Bill Hamm (4) (6)

Question 1: I fail to see how shifting the pain to the Federal Government is anything more than a temporary solution that pushes the debt off on our children and children's children. It does nothing to get our state government to live within its means. We would be far better off eliminating or at least suspending the mandates behind much of this debt as well as shifting many of these costs back to local decision making. I am particularly speaking of education and Social services.

Question 2: I feel lukewarm on this issue because it all depends on the ability of a partisan elected official to be non partisan, a concept I have little faith in under the present situation.

Even the Civic organizations you cite have become increasingly more partisan making their input of increasingly less value. Yes we need more inclusive public input. The answer we are looking for is how do Minnesotans achieve this again?

George Pillsbury (5) (8)

Bright Dornblaser (10) (10)

Question 1: Yes, if the government placed conditions such with GMoters eg strutural reforms

Question 3: What could draw the business community back into involvement, eg. participation in a meaningful commission with up or down vote on recommendations to increase likelihood of accomplishing results.

Ray Ayotte (0) (10)

Larry Schluter (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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