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 Response Page - Margaret Anderson Kelliher  Interview -      

These comments are responses to the questions listed below,
which were generated in regard to the
Margaret Anderson Kelliher  Interview of

The Questions:

_2.7 average____  1.  On a scale of (0) very negative, to (5) neutral, to (10) very positive, what is your view on the Governor's decision not to raise taxes, to borrow money, and use some accounting deferrals to help reconcile the budget shortfall?

_3.9 average____  2.  On a scale of (0) very negative, to (5) neutral, to (10) very positive, what is your view on the role of federal earmarks in transportation spending?

_7.7 average____  3.   On a scale of 0) very negative, to (5) neutral, to (10) very positive, do you believe changes are needed in transportation to produce greater overall leadership at the state level?

_5.6 average___ 4. On a scale of 0) very negative, to (5) neutral, to (10) very positive, do you think that school districts should be allowed to create new and autonomous schools similar to the charter sector?

David Broden (3) (0) (10) (7)

Question 1:  The governor's proposal is short sighted.  While tax increases may seem out of order in a time with economic problems, this is a time of opportunity to address a long term re-look at the government structure and how it is funded. By keeping taxes in the "same" format and structure there is no movement or action to establish the long term stability of revenue and concurrently provide for government which more effectively delivers services and is focused on a long term vision.  As the session progresses it will be important that the governor and the legislature become responsive to the long term needs of Minnesota and rethink their objectives.  Maintaining the status quo as the governor plans does is not responsible leadership.  We need a strong and effective vision that is communicated and "owned by all of Minnesota" 

Question 2: Earmarks are a basic failure of the legislative and administrative bodies at all levels to do their job and often displace the more critical needs. What is needed is an effective plan for transportation that will set the priorities within the state. There remains the important role for consideration of interstate commerce where some links across states and federal planning must be addressed but not as earmarks but as an overall transportation plan for the region or nation. 

Question 3: There appears to be no strong leadership nor is there a well established plan that links the whole state as well as moving both people and goods/services. To make this happen there needs to be a link between jobs and transportation as well as consideration of the products that must move. Leadership must begin with a strong vision--thru a state planning agency--and then articulated by the governor's endorsement and action to make it happen. 

Question 4:  The concept seems on track to offer options and opportunity. The approach to the new and autonomous schools and how they will operate must be well outlined to ensure public understanding and get public acceptance before moving ahead. Concurrently I continue to believe that "integrating change into the current system must remain a major thrust"--too many different ideas will water everything down and produce no benefits.  Thus let's do some pilot work on the new and autonomous while strongly moving to adjust the existing. 

Terry Sluss (1) (5) (8) (0)

Chuck Slocum (5) (5) (10) (8)

Question 1:  All options ought to be on the table as both the governor and the lawmakers build the next budget over the next 12 weeks.

Question 2:  Generally oppose earmarks and desire decision-making responsibility at the lowest level;  need more info here.

Chris Brazelton (2) (5) (8) (_)

Question 1:  While all available funds need to be tapped when running a deficit, all spending proposals need to be regularly reviewed for effectiveness to avoid waste. In addition, the tax cuts for the highest income earners dating back to the Ventura administration have left a legacy of under funding our ongoing needs.  It has been estimated by conservatives that $300 million additional tax revenue per year would be
realized by bringing the state tax rates of the top 10% in line with the other 90%.  Over time, that would start shoring up the holes in our revenue streams.  Obviously, this is only one part of the solution.  Wise, effective investments in preventative action is also important to keep future spending needs down.

Question 2:  While the federal government, as any other agency, wants to make sure its goals are being met with dollars invested, earmarks can and do result in politically motivated, inefficient expenditures.  Think "the bridge to nowhere".
Question 4:  Need more information on how this would be structured, accountability, etc.

Donna Anderson (2) (_) (8) (_)

Dennis L. Johnson (9) (0) (5) (10)

Wayne Jennings (1) (3) (9) (9)

Alan Miller (0) (8) (10) (5)

Gary Prest (0 (10) (10) (10)

Carolyn Ring (8) (5) (9) (3)

Question 4:  In a mobile society you need a strong sense of consistency as students move from one school to another.

Charles Lutz (0) (6) (9) (9)

Don Fraser (0) (5) (9) (9)

Bright Dornblaser (0) (7) (10) (8)

Hans Sandbo (9) (2.5) (7.5) (8)

Question 1:  Government needs to run like a business.   If there is not enough revenue they need to cut spending.   The hard part is knowing the limit of taxation.   To not raise taxes helps to point that out much better than to raise taxes and not make elected officials look for failed systems and programs.


Question 2:  Not sure I understand them that well but we must be skeptical of any funds from the Federal Government, because they do not understand Minnesota's issues as well as we do.  When it is a hard fact that federal funds are needed to support national programs (defense, foreign relations) then we can be less skeptical.  This is not always easy to determine, however it is why we pay people to serve in local, state and federal gov. positions.


Question 3:   Change is always needed - what that change is hard to tell.  Cut down on the need for individuals to drive (either by raising gas prices, better mass transport, support for more fuel efficient cars).


Question 4: Yes, but some oversight is needed by a state education system.


Bill Kuisle (6) (1) (3) (9)


Bob White (0) (5) (8) (5)


Donald H. Anderson (0) (5) (6) (0)

The only way government can operate is through public funding and that includes taxes, in part, based on an individual's ability to pay. In times of depression this means those who have the most must pay a fair share.


Dick Conklin (4) (10) (5) (4)


Vici Oshiro (0) (5) (5) (5)

Question 1:  Yes, I favor changes in our tax structure.  Any income tax increase should be applied first to those who, according to tax incidence study, pay smaller portion of their income than the rest of us.  In other areas the devil is in the details.  

Question 2:  Earmarks:  If this is carefully defined to those projects inserted into bill without vetting process my answer would be 0, but many people use the term loosely. 

 Question 3:  Transportation:  I think Margaret's metaphor of connecting the silos is a good one.  

Question 4:  Schools can create new schools if they wish and can afford it.  As for autonomous, where is your balance between autonomous and accountability?  I've learned about many successful charter schools.  Many if not most seem to rely on 24/7 demands upon teachers.  They need to be allowed to have a life too!

George Pillsbury (0) (0) (10) (5)

Wy Spano (0) (10) (3) (3) 

Ray Schmitz (2) (8) (10) (0)

Question 1:  The premises seems to be that there is a pot of gold at the end of 
the black cloud, what makes him think so.

Question 2:  Is it really worse for a rep/senator to designate a priority project in their district than for the federal administration to play favorites for political gain, I don't think so.  The real issue is benefit, a bridge to nowhere from a powerful senator is bad, but
what is the system that would prevent that?

Question 3:  Obviously the current system is not working so something has to be better.

Question 4:  I wonder if the local school board concept is viable today, the overhead and trauma of each district budgeting, administrating, and prioritizing no longer seems to be producing anything.  Someone recently noted that we formerly had one superintendent for each county, I don't think that was totally true, my recollection is that it only covered the rural schools and larger districts were still independent, but it would seem to make some sense to have regional administrations.  I appreciate the loyalty to local schools, but there does not seem to be a willingness to fund them, at least the possibility of eliminating the local admin expenses would make sense, why have all the HR, and other overhead.  The idea of the districts creating some miracle school seems unlikely since they have had the opportunity to do so for years.

David Pierson (6) (4) (8) (6)

Bruce Shuck ((2) (2) (4) (1)

Fred Zimmerman

I do hope that the Speaker  of the House and Governor Pawlenty can work effectively together. It seems clear, though, that Minnesota's economic situation will never improve with so many people employed by the State while being supported by a dwindling number of actively employed citizens in the private sector. The situation we face is arithmetic rather than political. Minnesota will ultimately be required, either willingly or unwillingly, to greatly reduce state employment and raise the retirement age for public employees to at least the age of 70. Within the framework of this arithmetic requirement to bring into balance public and private employment, no new taxes are in order except perhaps the gasoline tax to encourage conservation.

Robert J. Brown (2) (0) (_) (8)

Fred Senn (4) (0) (10) (10)

Peter Hennessey (1) (0) (0) (10)

It looks like Minnesota's problems are not much different from California's. But at least here we have law that requires 2/3 majority to raise taxes. Consequently we also have a permanent budget crisis because, in spite of shameless gerrymandering, there are still just enough Republicans in the legislature to derail a lot of stupid ideas.

Question 1. Sure, it is a bad idea in an economy like this to raise taxes. But borrowing just kicks the can down the road, and accounting tricks are just that, tricks, no substance. What is Minnesota doing to cut expenses?

Question 2. All money comes from the same pockets; mine and yours. Push the decision making down to the local level as much as possible. Obey the Constitution and cut the federal government back to its original size, so it won't suck up all the revenue. 

Question 3. A hundred years ago there was little government involvement in transportation or most other aspects of our lives. We had commuter rail systems radiating from city centers to the suburbs, and station wagons (horse drawn or motorized) to take the commuters to the stations. We had competing light rail lines within our cities, with great service and cheap fares. Then Big Business and Big Government colluded to rip up most rail and subsidize roads instead. The explosion of unplanned suburbs guaranteed that no transportation system will be financially viable and convenient ever again. My son has a friend living about 10 miles away, 10-15 minutes by car door to door. It takes him over 90 minutes by bus on a good day, if he is lucky to make the connections at the right times. Even as recently as the early 1970s, SF had private vans running around our densely populated neighborhoods that took you around for a quarter. The City's municipal rail and bus monopoly finally managed to drive them out of business, and fares are a buck and a half for drastically reduced service. In SF this was the last victim of the stupid legal theory of "natural monopoly" which drove out business competing water, electric, gas, telephone, cable, commuter train, light rail, bus, taxi, garbage and similar companies. No, the proper role of government, if any, is to get out of the way. 

Question 4. Again, push the decision making down to the local level as much as possible; the proper role of government, if any, is to get out of the way. 

I was in Pennsylvania when the feds started to blackmail local schools into accepting federal rules and regulations under the threat of losing federal funds they started getting just a couple of years before. The first one of these was the requirement that schools provide lunch. Now, in this small town, schools are close enough so you can walk home for lunch, and every kid did just that, or we brown-bagged it and hung out with friends. We still had full-time mothers back then, and it made no sense to anybody why we should have to build and staff a school cafeteria. The school board ended up spending more on that than the money we got from the feds. But that was just step one down a long slippery slope over the last 40+ years. 

We have stepped off the cliff and we are in a free fall into the abyss. USA 1776-2008 RIP.

Bill Hamm (6) (5) (3) (1)

Some of us understood that if the constitutional amendment passed legislators would again try to put the sales tax on food and clothing making it even more regressive than it is. The argument is that rich people buy bigger ticket items and while that may be true the richer you are the smaller percentage of your income goes to these items. The poorest would then basically pay a second income tax on their entire income.

As for simplifying participation to meet the requirements of modern laziness, I respectfully disagree. The value and usefulness of information gathered through such processes needs to be evaluated for its content, effectiveness, and validity. 

Question 1 It's a politically safe move that really shows no courage or long range planning.

Question 2 I support the creation of a statewide group of locally elected officials rather than metro councils to oversee the distribution and outlay of transportation funds.

Question 3.  I am more worried about accountability and fairness than creation of "New Leadership". 

Question 4. No. If the school districts are allowed to control the process no real change will occur. Even worse any positive results are likely to be buried in support of the system in place now. We need an explanation of independent schools that bring competition back to education.

Terry Stone (8) (0) (8) (6)

Real budgetary stability for Minnesota will occur when the size of government and the expectations of governance are reduced to sustainable and socially tenable levels that are more suitable to a Capitalist (as opposed to Socialist) system. This seems to be the subtext of conservative state budget solutions; although there seems to be a political reluctance to just spit it out and say it.

Question 1:  The steadfast dedication to living within the Stateís means by not raising taxes is good governance.  This idea gets a 10. The tax policy gets more weight than the other two components of this question because it is policy and relates to the shape of State Government. The other two components of the question are one-time (albeit, poor) decisions.  

Borrowing money from the tobacco settlement is unsustainable finance and gets a 0.

Accounting deferrals are not sustainable finance and consequently get a 0

Question 2:  Iím assuming that the question refers to the effect of earmarks on State transportation spending. Earmarks are bad governance and ultimately buy enough votes to keep the politicians of the world in power. Earmarks are sporadic and uncoordinated transportation spending. This is how we get freeway extensions in Northern Minnesota with tunnels under them for the passage of Canadian Lynx (L. canadensis).

Question 3:  Iím assuming that the question refers to Minnesota taking a transportation leadership position among states. The Trans-Texas Multimodal Supercorridor is an example of a state taking transportation leadership with private sector money and strong leadership by Governor Perry. This Corridor, incidentally, is the concept that hatched a thousand conspiracy myths including the NAFTA Superhighway, the North American Union and the Amero. The NAFTA Superhighway may be the only myth to have had its own Congressional hearings; the result of so many constituent complaints about the myth.

Paul H. Hauge (2) (5) (10) (5)

Joe Mansky (5) (4) (10) (10)

Ray Cox (8) (0) (8) (5)

Sheila Kiscaden (0) (6) (7) (5)

Kent Eklund (2) (2) (8) (8)

Shari Prest (0) (5) (7) (10)

Question 1:  These are very different ways of managing. I prefer raising taxes to borrowing and shifts. 

Question 2:   I am not opposed to them if the distribution process in futuristic, green and needs based as opposed to pork determined  by a partisan process. 

Question 3:   In the current system we need not only someone that can influence federal funds but also someone that can envision, lead, and inspire in the direction current and future resources require that we be. 

Question 4:  Yes, it is indefensible that we provide the opportunity to employ creative options to everyone but those most well prepared to measure community commitment, manage resources and plan curriculum and instruction and deflect resources from the majority of our learners in the process.

Larry Schluter (3) (4) (4) (7)

Question 4:  Districts have before and I think it would be a good idea to see what a individual school could do if it were to make some of its own decisions and have to live with its results.  It would put more responsibility on the teacher and the administrator for that building. 

Harlan Finney (0) (10) (10) (0)

Scott Halstead (0) (0) (_) (5)  

Robert Jacobs (0) (5) (5) (0) 

Tom Swain (3) (5) (9) (9)

David Pundt (7.5) (0) (10) (0)

Question 1:   A quick look at the exponential growth of the public sector and state government should bring anyone to the conclusion that it's out of control. Cutting taxes, absolutely. Borrowing money, probably not. Rather than accounting deferrals, how about putting competition and good sound free market principles in place as much as possible instead.

Question 2:  So who's running this state anyway? Did we elect members of Congress to fill in for the Governor and Legislature? Did I miss that election? We've elected local and state leaders and they should be in charge of the agenda.

Question 3:  Get the feds out of the game would be a good start.

Question 4:  I think school districts should have direct competition from private charter schools and let parents decide where their kid should get ready for the rest of his life.

Jim Keller (8) (3) (10) (2)


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;  Lee Canning,  Charles Clay, Bill Frenzel, 
Paul Gilje,  Jim Hetland,  John Mooty,  Jim Olson,  Wayne Popham  and  John Rollwagen.  

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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