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 Response Page - Hann  Interview -      

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


State Senator David Hann, chair, Minnesota Senate Health and Human Services Committee believes the state budget can be balanced without increasing tax rates.  He advocates more use of private insurance in human services.  He believes the historical vision for the state as expressed in the U. S. Constitution and the Northwest Ordinance should be reaffirmed.  He believes more control should shift from the federal government to the states and from the states to local government. 

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

Sen. Hann. Average response ratings shown below are simply the mean of all readers’ zero-to-ten responses to the ideas proposed and should not be considered an accurate reflection of a scientifically structured poll.

1. State budget. (3.9 average response) Minnesota can enact a satisfactory state budget by limiting its spending to natural growth in state revenues without increasing tax rates.

2. Insurance. (4.4 average response) Citizens of the state should rely more on privately financed insurance for health and human services and less on state appropriations.

3. Vision. (3.3 average response) Minnesota doesn't need a new vision. It needs to affirm the historical vision of the U.S. Constitution and the Northwest Ordinance. 

4. Federal-state-local. (5.4 average response) A trend to involve the federal government more in state issues and the state government more in local issues should be reversed.

Response Distribution:

Strongly disagree

Moderately disagree


Moderately agree

Strongly agree

Total Responses

1. State budget.







2. Insurance.







3. Vision.







4. Federal-state-local.







Individual Responses:

Richard C. Angevine  (2.5)  (5)  (2.5)  (7.5)

2. Insurance. I do agree that people need to take more responsibility for their health care but I am not convinced that pushing it all to private insurance is the answer.

3. Vision. We need a clear vision of where we want the state to go in 2011 and beyond.  The Constitution, etc. provide guidance but need to be interpreted within the context of the world that exists in the 21st century.

John Branstad  (0)  (0)  (2.5)  (2.5)

1. State budget. Satisfactory to those on the top of the economic ladder, possibly. To those in the middle and working class who have been forced to pay more and more in property taxes due to past state budget cuts? To the poor who have seen the services they rely on be cut to the bone? No way.

2. Insurance. Sen. Hann's comparison of our state health care program to the Soviet Union is the exact sort of unproductive and inflammatory rhetoric that we need to avoid. Absurd comparisons like that do nothing to move the conversation forward.

3. Vision. Maybe it's Sen. Hann's background in the wealthy SW suburbs, but school districts in outstate Minnesota simply can't raise the sort of revenue to provide the same quality education as his home district. Having the state fund education actually fits within the Northwest Ordinance cited by Sen. Hann. Education Funding one of the core tennants of the Minnesota Miracle so every child in Minnesota should have access to quality public education, not just the kids in the rich suburban schools. We do need a vision for moving our state forward - and looking back 150 years is not the way to do it.

4. Federal-state-local. It's ironic that many of the same folks who want to keep the federal government out of state issues are quick to have the state dictate to local groups how to work. Sen. Hann seems to claim that because the state provides the bulk of education funding, local school districts have lost control. If that were the case, why are members of Sen. Hann's party trying to dictate even more to local school districts? By proposing a statewide teacher pay freeze, that's literally taking control away from local districts to determine how much their teachers should get paid. When Sen. Hann and others in his party continue to cut LGA (another large part of the Minnesota Miracle) at the same time as proposing limits on local property tax increases, they are guilty of the same behavior they complain about.

Anonymous 5  (10)  (10)  (7.5)  (10)

Larry Kennebeck  (0)  (2.5)  (0)  (0)

Bruce A. Lundeen  (10)  (7.5)  (7.5)  (5)

2. Insurance. However, affordable privately financed insurance simply is not available for many - including myself.

3. Vision. Just for discussion, a thought is that the wholesale and indiscriminate availability of education has contributed to the proliferation of government.

4. Federal-state-local. I believe the State should recover some authorities the local governments have abused:  regulatory and inspection services. Consider Minneapolis, a difficult locality to build, maintain, even improve, property. There are many injustices promulgated by local governments who operate without restraint.

Bob White  (0)  (5)  (0)  (2.5)

2. Insurance. Yes and no.  Some can and should.  Some cannot.

4. Federal-state-local. The claim of a trend is unpersuasive.

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

1. State budget. Why not?  Sounds like a reasonable idea.  Those who love to spend other people's money until it runs out will have to use more imagination to keep their beloved programs running.

2. Insurance. Privately financed insurance is the way to go, with exceptions only for the indigent. This is the only way to keep competition in the picture; a government program only grows.

3. Vision. The "new vision" is usually just a cover for expensive new programs. Beware this holy grail.

4. Federal-state-local. Who let this conservative wolf into the progressive henhouse? Why, such radical thinking should have been screened out as usual. Next you will be listening to Michelle Backman! Or even, heaven forbid, Rush Limbaugh.

Eli Hoehn  (0)  (0)  (0)  (0)

3. Vision. I disagree with the premise of this question, viz. that the "less government" stance is the historical vision of the Constitution and Northwest Ordinance.

4. Federal-state-local. I disagree with the premise of this question, that the federal government is more involved with issues that are the states. The federal government has a role in issues of fairness and equity and is the only way we can achieve fairness for the middle class.

Groucho   (2.5)  (2.5)  (0)  (7.5)

1. State budget. Conceptually this type of budget control is possible.  However, when an institution is damaged so badly by neglect and when available funding is directed to poor investments, a tax rise may be necessary to repair the damage.  Past Governors such as Anderson, Quie, Perpich and Carlson recognized this reality.  Governor Pawlenty used "tax expenditures" to promote the colossal failure of "JOBZ".  Present Republicans are hoodwinked into thinking jobs are created by the wealthy and not by widespread demand for products and services.  No one wants to raise taxes, but the infrastructure has been so neglected and the revenue stream so damaged, that new revenue is the only way to keep the state solvent and fix the damage done by people who have no vision.    We had a governor who bullied his way around the Capitol for four years, always pointing at problems but solving few.  He left the state to live in Mexico, never to be involved in any further capacity except promoting himself.  Then we elected another self-promoter who kicked the fiscal can down the road for eight more years until what was solvable with slight adjustments is now almost insolvable even with major revenue increases.  The cost of government as a % of (GDP) has gone down and we are harvesting the fruits of past leaders but we are not planting the harvest of the future.  No nation, no state, no city, no school district, no business, no family has ever become more successful by not investing in their future.  We have eaten the milk cow, we have used the furniture for firewood and the roof has begun to leak.  It's time to get a grip on a vision before our state is not habitable.

2. Insurance. It is a vague question.  By the nature of the question, does "privately-financed" mean "for-profit"?  Does it mean individually qualifying for and buying a health plan?  Also, is this question discriminating among citizens and legal-resident non-citizens?  Health care should be understood as a right.  By the way, health care and treatment of an enemy POW is a legal obligation, so let's get off a high horse about who "deserves" care.    The fact that the entire country could be one pool for health care is realistic and possible.  You do not know when and who will be hit by illness, whether causal, genetic or accidental.  Pool selection and other ways to discriminate are not moral.

3. Vision. The Constitution has many interpretations and is purposefully vague in some areas.  Senator Hann only acknowledges David Hann's interpretation and thinks everyone in the world is out of step but him.  Thankfully, he has been and still is in the minority of thinking.

4. Federal-state-local. "Local control" is a popular and attractive concept however, Republicans have a very selective playbook that dictates when they want to employ or reject local control.  Many of the bills Hann has introduced or supported are specifically to take away local control.  He wants to supersede city control of handguns, sanctuary policies and spending.  He wants to take away the rights of school districts to negotiate directly with their employees, how to negotiate salaries, whom they can hire and with whom they can sign contracts.  The Civic Caucus ought to question some of these statements using their critical thinking.

Mary Rossing  (7.5)  (10)  (7.5)  (10)

Don Anderson  (0)  (0)  (0)  (0)

1. State budget. Define "natural growth". What constitutes "natural growth" in a changing environment and changing dynamics of industrial and consumer demands?

2. Insurance. Isn't that the problem today? People on a low or fixed income cannot afford privately-financed insurance.

4. Federal-state-local. We don't need states being pitted against states. Also define "issues".

Willard B. Shapira  (0)  (0)  (0)  (0)

1. State budget. Those who take the most out of this society should be required to put the most back in. It's called tax fairness, a term little-known and less-appreciated by Republicans.

2. Insurance. If the government exists for any reason, it is to meet the needs of all of its citizens and its priority list should start at the bottom of the society and work its way up.

3. Vision. I don't know what the Northwest Ordinance stands for but I think changing times require broader interpretations of the Constitution without abandoning its precepts. How could the framers ever have envisioned Tea Party people?

4. Federal-state-local. Dead wrong. I am a democratic socialist and if given a chance, we could right many of the wrongs of a capitalist plutocratic oligarchy we have had forced upon us.

Peter Hennessey  (7.5)  (7.5)  (10)  (10)

1. State budget. Natural growth, natural decrease; depends on the state of the economy. Either way, government has to live within its means, just like normal people.

2. Insurance. Yes, privatize as much as possible, all kinds of services, not just health care and whatever "human" services are.

3. Vision. Imagine that! We already do have a vision.

4. Federal-state-local. Yes. That government is best which governs least. The people closest to the problem know better (1) what the problems are, and (2) how to solve it. Let them. Share the experience so others can learn from it. Ours is not an imperial or dictatorial system, we are not ruled by "philosopher kings," as Plato advocated about 2,500 years ago. (And we are still trapped in this flawed ideology.) Quite to the contrary, most of our politicians are just power-drunk pompous asses with clay feet, with very rare evidence of any wisdom beyond the common man's.

John Cairns  (0)  (7.5)  (0)  (5)

1. State budget. Tax expenditures need to be part of the equation too.    Data today points out the regressive nature of the tax system. Changing this needs to be a priority

3. Vision. A new vision of how government operates is critical. Nothing in Hann's comments deal with systemic change in the way services are delivered. The concepts historically are useful, but making government work when we have 5MM citizens, mobility, technology, etc. require completely different strategies.

4. Federal-state-local. In some systems, yes, but for transportation (air, highway), communications, etc., a US system is far better than 50 different state systems.

Pat Barnum  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)

3. Vision. But good luck with getting the majority of the people of the state to first understand it, and second agree on this point.

W. D. (Bill) Hamm  (10)  (0)  (10)  (10)

1. State budget. Pushing control, decision-making, and funding back to the local level is fundamental in recapturing creativity as well as educational excellence in Minnesota. The aggressive socialist experiment that has paralleled the rise of white collar public employees’ unions has been a miserable failure in the state of Minnesota as well as the US of A. Time to get back to what really works in America, Americans.

2. Insurance. I as adamantly disagree with this elitist concept as I do with the WCUPE's(White Collar Union Public Employee's), proposals to venture further into socialist health care efforts. Everything the insurance Companies are doing for us, we can do for ourselves profit free through Cooperatives. The locally controled framework for this already exists.

3. Vision. Eliminate all the "Carrot and Stick" controlling funding mechanisms. Make this method of coercion forever outlawed as a means of Federal Government controlling States, and States controlling Local Units of government. Open up all our public meetings to public input as it was less than 40 years ago. Return us our voice and control.

4. Federal-state-local. Absolutely, without question and in every way possible we need to end this not just reverse it. This is the Socialist infection.

James Kielkopf  (0)  (0)  (0)  (2.5)

3. Vision. Are you kidding? The Northwest Ordinance?

Ray Schmitz  (7.5)  (2.5)  (0)  (2.5)

1. State budget. The limitation on this is how to manage in times where that growth is limited or even flat.  Also that growth is not necessarily related to inflation.  So there needs to be more involved than just that growth.  Additionally, it does not allow for those emergency problems, floods, etc., nor fund programs that the taxpayers demand.

2. Insurance. We are seeing that the costs of insurance have increased similarly to public programs; containment is the solution of choice, I think.

3. Vision. That assumes that nothing has changed in a couple hundred years.

4. Federal-state-local. The idea that local control is effective and efficient is a great sound bite but not realistic.  This is the same party that is saying to school districts "we don't trust you to negotiate with your teachers", and we will set state tests to measure student progress.  One or the other, please.

Anonymous  (0)  (2.5)  (2.5)  (2.5)

Terrry Sluss  (0)  (2.5)  (0)  (2.5)

David F. Durenberger  (na)  (na)  (na)  (na)

Please have Hann send me a copy of the Northwest Ordinance which I presume will be taught in Eden Prairie schools by teachers without tenure.

Paul and Ruth Hauge  (2)  (5)  (1)  (4)

To solve the budget crisis, there must be a combination of elements to bring the budget into line including some income tax increases--not indirect tax increases such as fee increases, property tax increases etc.

Wayne Jennings  (4)  (4)  (2)  (7)

I would have liked him to describe how we might redesign some government functions. I’m OK with fiscal conservatism but not if it means crappy roads and ignoring health needs.

Jackie   (4)  (0)  (4)  (4)

Peter Heegaard  (0)  (5)  (0)  (5)

Alan Miller  (0)  (1)  (0)  (0)

Let me get out my musket; that’s a vision from antiquity.  The morons are coming!  The morons are coming!

Shari Prest  (0)  (0)  (0)  (5)

3. Vision.  Whose interpretation of the historical vision? If it is Senator Hann’s I would have to give this question a zero.   Why would we assume the vision doesn’t require adaptions when everything around us is changing? That is an inadequate and polarizing response to a needy and changing world and a huge deficit. Is Sen. Hann selectively choosing not to honor the verbiage of the state constitution that requires the state to provide an adequate and equitable system of public education? Does Sen. Hann believe we can do that with fewer resources or through destabilizing districts’ budgets through shifts? We certainly require an evolving vision that takes population growth, consumption of limited natural resources, the importance of education in prosperity, the growing gap in wealth, the number of our citizens without access to preventive or adequate health care, and the inextricable link between higher taxes and state prosperity.

4. Federal-state-local. This position is oversimplified. I believe in local control but appreciate that there are issues and resolutions that can only be successfully implemented with state and federal support and leadership. Does Sen. Hann believe in the authority of local school districts to raise property taxes for schools? Or would he choose to have the state authority usurp local authority through requiring referenda?
I have had the opportunity to meet Senator Hann at a coffee shop and find him to be a nice person with simplistic and polarizing ideas. I heard him be advised that the best way to move ahead in politics is to create a crisis.

John Milton  (na)  (na)  (na)  (na)

Do you know who this guy is, and what he stands for? Yesterday, Senator Hann introduced SF 805 that strips away completely the health care benefits for public employees.  It will amount to a $15,784 cut in our family income, since my wife is employed in the MNSCU system.  That is about one-third of her take-home pay.  It means that -- if it passes -- our home and thousands of others will go on the market or be foreclosed.

You had convinced me that Civic Caucus was the successor, at least in spirit, of the old Citizens League, which in 1971 played a key role in the "Minnesota Miracle."  That you stood for fairness, and for equitable sharing of the burden of digging out of the ditch Bush-Cheney-Pawlenty drove us into.  That's not true if you hand the microphone to the Senator Hanns.  (Stan Holmquist and Nick Coleman would turn over in their graves!)
Sen. Hann and his new majority would also cut pension benefits for state employees, while at the same time protecting high-income earners, whose tax rates are lower than in 1999, and who pay a smaller percentage of their income in state and local taxes.  So Senator Hann wants to protect the affluent Minnesotans, and impose the pain on state employees.  That's the Civic Caucus idea of fairness?

If these new Senate leaders hate government so much, why did they run for office?  If they hate public sector employees so much, will they eventually want every citizen to police his/her own street, put out their own fires, educate their own kids, plow the snow in front of their own houses, build their own sewers?  And, then, logically, why not ask us to defend the country, home by home, with assault weapons as permitted by the NRA?  No more defense budget: lots of dollars to cut there.

What would Minnesota look like without public services?

Ray Cox  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)

Our government has simply grown too large for our society to sustain. We do need to limit our spending to the revenues that we expect, and cannot keep trying to create plans to raise ever-increasing amounts of revenue. Our economy will never become stable again if we create a government that is completely dependent upon federal gifts, when our federal treasury is bankrupt.

Bright Dornblaser  (3)  (1)  (1)  (4)

Don Fraser  (0)  (0)  (0)  (2)

Mary Tambornino  (0)  (0)  (0)  (5)

Instead of "figuring it (the budget in this case) out" Sen. Hann only wants to make sure that the populace is punished with shifts, making permanent the unallotments and going back to the same tired mantra that the Constitution is not an organic growing document but a set of rules appropriate for the time they were written, but cannot be appropriate for the way this county has evolved.  We cannot afford this odd attitude that insists that we are the same county as in 1789.

William Kuisle  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)

Ron Erhardt  (0)  (0)  (0)  (0)

Sen. Hann is a classic very conservative ideologue spouting nonsense. Unfortunately, he and others of his ilk control the legislature. Most of the new legislators have very little perspective about the reality of governing. In addition, they read from the extreme right wing playbook when they speak.

Al Quie  (4)  (10)  (0)  (10)

Chuck Lutz  (0)  (4)  (2)  (5)

Carolyn Ring  (7)  (9)  (4)  (8)

David Detert  (0)  (0)  (0)  (4)

Bert Press  (5)  (10)  (5)  (5)

John Carlson  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)

I applaud Sen. Hann for his vision.  The only suggestion I would make is that our budget needs to include saving for the next business cycle downturn.  As we move through the recovery phase of the current cycle, we must be putting money into a rainy day fund, from which we can draw when the next inevitable contraction occurs.

RobertJ. Brown  (7)  (8)  (10)  (10)

Scott Halstead  (5)  (0)  (0)  (4)

There are some issues that exceed the capability of some levels of government and guidance and assistance are necessary.  Likewise, some use assistance inappropriately while others are paying unnecessarily.

Terry Stone  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)

Inadequate concern is being expressed for a state reserve fund.

Larry Schluter  (4)  (3)  (1)  (4)

Mr. Hann did not offer much in ideas to keep our state out-performing other states and to get out of the budget problem we are now having.


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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