January 6, 2009
8301 Creekside Circle #920
Bloomington, MN 55437
Dear Governor Pawlenty,
We have just polled participants in the Civic Caucus, a tax-exempt,
strictly non-partisan, virtual public affairs educational
organization, http://civiccaucus.org. We asked them to share in 100
words or less--a request for brevity that was not always honored, as
you will see--a central message they would like to hear in your
upcoming major addresses.
We're honored to share responses with you. A summary is followed by
the complete text of the messages, including the names of persons
submitting them. They are part of this email and also included as a .pdf
attachment. Thank you.
Verne C. Johnson, chair, Civic Caucus
Paul A. Gilje, coordinator
SUMMARY OF MESSAGES TO GOVERNOR PAWLENTY:
--Sacrifice from everyone
--A more just and humane society for all
--Cannot return to past practices
--Elected leaders should act in the interest of future generations
rather than on behalf of the status quo.
--Staying on the "me first" road will continue the rapid decline of
the American Republic.
--The nation needs to commit itself to maintaining a level playing
-- The world cannot be a better place for our children, if the fruits
of their labors have been spent by their forefathers.
--Let us put a windmill in every prairie, the corn in every car and
the sun in every building.
--All revenue options are open for discussion.
--Maintain revenue stability in economic ups and downs.
--Renew a vision to Minnesota through creation of a state planning
--Steadily move up the proportion of students transitioning at age 16
into essentially adult roles, into post-secondary education or into
--If Minnesota doesn't make changes on the expenditure side, the
fiscal crisis will appear again and again.
--A renewed commitment to our children. Reshape our spending and tax
policies to insure the care and educational opportunity they deserve.
We must all sacrifice in some way to insure a more secure future for
our children and those of us charged with nurturing their development.
--Among government activities most in need of reform is the matter of
public retirements. Our economic situation of today will never provide
the tax receipts necessary to fund these exorbitant obligations.
--Minnesota's leadership will be judged by its ability to facilitate
an informed, bipartisan and shared vision toward a better tomorrow for
--Let's get the spending in line with the income.
--Concentrate our limited resources on issues that are within our
control: education and transportation. Health care is a national
--Look at policy changes to entice retirees to retain their residency
--Government cannot grant liberty, only take it away. Liberty includes
the freedom to experience personal responsibility for our successes
--Show more willingness to reach out to all.
--No one is looking at the real cost of sports programs. By forcing
the shifting of these costs to local communities and off the education
ledger, we can make real cuts in education without sacrificing our
primary goal of teaching.
--If we have to accept cuts that have real impact on people's lives,
show us that he (the Governor) understands those impacts, and that
he's not acting ruthlessly.
--The possibilities of saving large sums are pretty obvious. If we
could get the state to operate with, say, 10-15 counties, why not?
--Every unit of government needs to make a thorough assessment of its
--Proclaim your leadership; outline your vision; explain how the
vision will be implemented.
-- A rollback of the tax breaks to the top 1%, a reasonable tax on
clothing, taxing internet purchases.
--End the gridlock over taxing and spending by embracing a systemic
approach to the state's problems.
-- Invest in research, technology, education and infrastructure and
policies that retain our investment.
-- Give us the truth about Minnesota's future. Then give us reason to
--Restore the Metropolitan Waste Control Commission separate from Met.
Transit. The original Met. Council as a planning agency with no
authority may be acceptable.
MESSAGES TO GOVERNOR PAWLENTY:
(Note - Some
of the wordings are the same or similar to those suggested to
We are in this together. Recovery requires sacrifice from everyone.
And that means helping each other. The greed of a few does not define
this nation. We can do whatever is necessary to become the fulfillment
of our American ideals.
While there are host of problems to work on (economy, debt, war,
environment, medical, education, etc.) all solutions must maintain our
highest mission of a more just and humane society for all.
We are all in this together and we cannot return to past practices as
the basis for a sound recovery. We must rebuild a private sector based
on less personal debt and possibly a lower living standard, including
a more sustainable environmental economy.
That the citizens must depend more on themselves and their
Neighbors/communities and less on government. Our Government, at all
levels, must face the fact that baby-boom demographics are no longer
an asset but are in transition to a major liability (Medicare and
Social Security)---huge future government costs for which there are no
reserves. Governments at all levels must learn to focus resources
(taxes) more like a laser beam and less like "vomit." Every public
program is not as important as another---police, fire, defense,
transportation and k-12 are probably more important than tax
expenditures to itemizers, whether corporate or individuals, farm
subsidies, non-profit tax expenditures where the majority of the
non-profits income is governmental. Those who oppose single payer
government provided health care for all should publicly oppose
Medicare or look up the definition of hypocrisy and ignorance while
looking in the mirror.
The moral of this short epistle is that the American voter must be
educated on the federal and state budget so that elected leaders can
act in the interest of future generations rather than on behalf of the
status quo. We all need to be reminded of the words of the great
Frederick Douglass on the matter of reform/change, particularly
Minnesotans, who avoid confrontation at all costs: "Those who profess
to favor freedom and yet depreciate agitation, are people who want
crops without plowing the ground; they want rain without thunder and
lightning; they want the ocean without the roar of its many waters.
The struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, or it
may be both. But it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without
a demand; it never has and it never will."
Both should argue that: (1) if taxes are necessary, everyone must pay,
sacrifice. (2) if spending cuts are necessary everyone should be
affected, sacrifice. We cannot afford the political games (for voter
support) that most politicians have played for as long as any of us
can remember. Both must engage the hearts. Both should inform
(educate) the business community (who support spending cuts) that the
tax expenditures businesses receive are government spending in the
same way that farm price supports are spending that farm businesses
and farmers receive.
Both should require that non-profit organizations that receive tax
benefits (expenditures) raise over 50%(or more) of their gross
revenues from non-public sources or they will lose their exemption
from the property and sales tax (this non-governmental revenue was the
reason non-profits originally received the tax expenditures to begin
Overall, we need voters to understand that personal savings is a form
of insurance against unemployment, that an annuity or long-term care
insurance is personally responsible behavior since it shields the
taxpayer from having to pay for long-term care for all. We all must
live within our means, recognize that a good education is a key to
economic and personal success and that we are responsible for our own
and children's education.
Change requires tolerating the mighty roars of the ocean. Politicians
will continue to prey on fear ("tax increases and spending cuts")
until the public is engaged enough to give elected officials
permission to act for the benefit of the whole rather than parts and
holds them accountable if they do not act in such a manner.
I believe that we are at one of the most significant forks in the road
of our collective history. Staying on the current "me
first"--individuals matter more than society--road will continue the
rapid decline of the American Republic. Taking the road less traveled
could make all the difference.
As I wrote in my book The Strange Death of Liberal America, the nation
needs to commit itself to maintaining a level playing field. End the
gridlock over taxing and spending by embracing a systemic approach to
the state's problems. State government and policies have become
fragmented, duplicative, and in some cases conflicting. It is time to
embrace a twenty-first century approach that casts aside the linear
box-thinking of the past.
David F. Durenberger
Before I switched from the Governor's race to the Senate in 1978 I
went to D.C. to find out why I should from members of the Senate who
had been Governors. I wanted to change the role of government and they
said I might but only if I followed the money and the spending power
to its national source. I became ranking GOP on Intergovernmental
relations subcommittee and then chair until I left for another
committee and IGR was dropped. The National Governors were a force in
getting Reagan to propose a "new federalism" which failed because of
the political power of counties and cities.
History is repeating itself. Obama will do a stimulus package and all
the local governments in America have hired two senators (ex IL) and a
congressperson to carry letters to Santa in Washington. The Tim
Pawlentys of the NGA are doing little/nothing to focus the President
on national purposes and state accountability and capacity.
As we are proving once again, in our historic credit crisis, one
important purpose of a national government is a healthy national
economy as a foundation for the income security of its citizens. In
which local markets play by national rules. Full employment and
realistic income protection. Tax policy that relies less on taxing
income, wages, and the savings/investments they make possible than on
the goods and services we produce.
Private insurance policy that uses national rules to restore
competitiveness to insurance markets so as to minimize the
"catastrophic" role that social insurance must play. Especially as
this relates to health care access and to supportive services for
persons with disabilities. Public assistance (welfare) will remain a
joint national-state responsibility because of the wide variations in
tax capacity and public equity commitment of the states to our
As our nation ages and the global economy changes, the northern states
are gradually losing their taxing capacity to the south. Sam's
Clubbers who live in these states and depend on them for access to
quality jobs and public services are either dependent on more public
assistance or on jobs in the south. They are left to pay off pension,
health and disability insurance promises made in the healthy era to
persons who "took early retirement" so they could "spend their kids
inheritance" in FL or TX or AZ. That's why we need a new national
income security policy to replace the antiquated promises made to the
"greatest generation" before our children and grandchildren have to
rely on them.
We also need better from state government. Education and
infrastructure is what states and local governments can do best.
Reform of education at all levels is a must public purpose of state
leaders which Governors like Rudy Perpich and Arne Carlson led on
decades ago. Transportation, energy/environment, public safety and
recreation, and, critically today, housing policy are part of our
In our federal system the interstate commerce clause of the
constitution does not require Congress to build highways and bridges.
It does require Congress to set national policy on resource and health
protection from energy production, but not how best it's achieved.
Minnesota citizens spoke to that in the Legacy Amendment to our
constitution this fall and to their willingness to tax themselves to
assure healthier lives for us and future generations.
Our governments have to stop spending. For thousands of good reasons,
we have created thousands of programs that would be worthwhile, if we
had the money to fund them. We do not and we are spending the wealth
of generations yet unborn. The world cannot be a better place for our
children, if the fruits of their labors have been spent by their
To help make the point of this fundamental unfairness, each should
point out that in any borrower/lender relationship, the only one who
gets richer is the lender, ever increasing the disparity of wealth. In
this case, it also transfers the wealth not just from future
generations to the present slackers, but from Minnesota and the United
States to a myriad of lender countries, rich by production, while we
make our children poor by our consumption.
I will hang on every word, waiting for a politician to say "No" to the
thousand constituencies who want "more".
Daniel William Sanders
As an independent candidate in the last election, I held a vision of
energy independence, with the cost of fuel reducing, let us not forget
that at any given time the cost of fuel will rise and send us once
again into an economic crisis, I want the commitment from both the
Gov. and Pres. that we must not wait, we must have a new energy
policy, with the commitment of energy independence in just a few short
years, With the cost of fuel reducing it is very easy to shy away from
any new energy policy, we have waited for years. I am committed to
having a new energy independence policy. We must do this for our
children, let us put a windmill in every prairie, the corn in every
car and the sun in every building, let us not pass legislation today
that does not look at tomorrow.
1. All revenue options are "open for discussion"
2. Revenue and programs must be viewed as "value added" and at as if a
fresh start---not just cut and adjust but new approaches must be the
focus in all areas. This must include public vs. private delivery of
the services etc.
3. Revenue and programs must be established to have the following:
A) Revenue Stability in economic ups and downs
B) Programs must be updated and redefined to fit long term visions and
budgets and not to result in "bubbles" over time such as in pensions
and heath care. Education must be priority and have a stable funding
C) Revenue sources need to consider the service focused economy and
other changes such as how transportation costs will be addressed to
flow with the economy trends and ensure a constant income flow to
operate state government.
D) Minnesota must maintain its unique and high quality of life
including education, health care, environment, attention to
transportation etc. Changing the Minnesota life style is an objective.
4. Renew a vision to Minnesota thru creation of a state planning
agency that is comprised of citizens from across Minnesota --acting as
a citizen legislature to form the future of Minnesota (may even be a
third legislature body required to be citizens and meeting only 2-3
months every other year to set agenda for the basic legislature)
Financing improvement with savings rather than with taxes
There seems little prospect of an increase in revenue for K-12 in the
coming biennium. Minnesota should nevertheless . . . really must, . .
. continue its effort at improvement.
Probably there is some potential to finance this from savings. This
idea goes against all the standard rhetoric from the districts --
which is that all change requires new revenue. (Query: Why exactly is
it that 'best practice' cannot be introduced within existing revenue?)
So the state should act.
Here are a few sources of new revenue, generated from savings. Note:
The savings do not involve cutting program or beating-down salary
1) Steadily, and as rapidly as possible, move up the proportion of
students transitioning at age 16 into essentially adult roles: into
post-secondary education or into work. Minnesota has about 50,000
students per grade level. We are talking two grade levels here: 11th
and 12th. High school costs about $10,000 per student. Multiply 50,000
by 10,000 and then double the product for the biennium to get some
sense of the dollars that might be made available for reallocation.
2) Introduce and spread an economically-sustainable form of secondary
school widely across rural Minnesota. Use the model Charlie Kyte
described in his MASA newsletter a couple of years ago (which was
essentially the MNCS model, from chartering).
3) Introduce and maximize the use of peer teaching at all levels and
in all subjects. Peer teaching has been shown to be a highly effective
intervention; a blue-ribbon "best practice". Cost considered, its
attractiveness moves to the top of the list.
4) Move a larger number of students into chartered schools, which
operate at lower costs and which do a better job of constraining their
costs. This sector has generated a model that is both educationally
and economically viable with 120 students, 7-12.
When state finances are in crisis the tendency is to think policy
action must be confined to TAX and CUT. And, true, there is the
imperative to balance the budget within the biennial framework.
But a time like this also clarifies the need to make changes in "the
way things are done", which can reduce requirements on the expenditure
side -- though, of course, not within the two-year budget period.
The problem is that if Minnesota does not take the opportunity now
presented to make these changes on the expenditure side the fiscal
crisis will appear again and again, with only the options to TAX and
to CUT recurring at ever-higher levels of expenditure.
Creative proposals for the "lower-right-hand corner" of the policy
field will not come from people in the budget operation, however.
Their minds are, necessarily, occupied with 'balancing'; with taxing
and with cutting. The state must look elsewhere, to others, for these
Minnesota has been, is now, and will continue to be a special place in
which to live and work. We face tremendous economic challenges as we
confront a large gap
between our projected two year income and our state budget revenue
We need to involve the public in advising policymakers on how best to
close the gap and, together, confront our future. Citizens are invited
to offer creative ways to set priorities and to energize the
inventiveness of both agencies and individuals. Our future is with our
youngest citizens, too many of whom are vulnerable and must be
protected and nurtured.
"Fellow Minnesotans, we have never experienced anything like this
economic tsunami in our lifetimes. These are the times that will test
our resolve, our basic belief in democracy and our long held values of
caring for our neighbors and those less fortunate.
"High on the list of new year's resolutions should be a renewed
commitment to our children. They are the workforce and entrepreneurial
innovators of our future. They cannot vote, however we can vote for
them. We will need to reshape our spending and tax policies to insure
the care and educational opportunity they deserve.
"That may well mean changes in life styles for many of us as we also
seek to maintain the safety net that gives all citizens the
opportunity to strive for self-sufficiency. So I will be asking for
all Minnesotans to set aside partisanship and the pursuit of special
interests to unite behind new initiatives that come from involved
citizens from all corners of our great state.
"We will seek ideas with respect to new initiatives in education,
economic growth, health care, the environment and the rebuilding of
our infrastructure. This cannot happen without some sacrifice and
creative new ways of looking at expense reduction and revenue
enhancement. Common sense dictates that we must all sacrifice in some
way to insure a more secure future for our children and those of us
charged with nurturing their
"The road ahead will have hills to climb, curves to navigate and
bridges to build. But I can assure you that with this type of united
effort characteristic of Minnesota's remarkable history we will build
a secure future for all."
That he is willing to give up his ideologically wrongheaded attitude
toward taxes (that the only goal worth pursuing is "No New Taxes"). If
he cannot get beyond this, we will have to wait for another governor
to try to bail us out of the big hole we've dug.
In his first state of the state he talked about Tom Brokow's "The
Greatest Generation" and their contributions to our state and nation.
He needs to bring back that theme with how they did it, with sense of
community and shared sacrifice.
Paul and Ruth Hauge
The two areas that the Governor and Legislature should focus on are
service, primarily, and efficiency, secondarily. Service should
include all mandated areas of assistance but also those areas that
government must provide funding and management. Efficiency should not
only include past operations but also the way government functions in
I would be happy to present some additional material on the imbalance
we now have in our economy between production, and other activities.
That imbalance is unsustainable and will lead to chronic deficits
until it is corrected. I applaud the Governor for his efforts to seek
a more lasting resolution to our economic problems.
Among the government activities most in need of reform is the matter
of public retirements. Many of these programs permit people to retire
in their mid-fifties -- during the prime of their working lives.
Minnesota teachers, for instance, are in retirement for an average of
27.4 years -- nearly as long as some of them have worked. Minnesota
does have some dedicated teachers, of course -- probably about half of
them. These dedicated people should be treated with respect and given
more authority to govern and control their classrooms without undue
restrictions from negligent parents.
Still, the problem of government retirement obligations is an
arithmetic problem, not a policy problem. Who wouldn't want to retire
early with 85 percent of their pay. However, our economic situation of
today will NEVER provide the tax receipts necessary to fund these
exorbitant obligations. Since there are now 12 million more people
working in the government than we have working in manufacturing, it is
arithmetically impossible for this state, or country, to continue to
provide retirement benefits as they exist now. The average life
expectancy, at age 40, has increased eight years since 1960 and we
have made essentially no changes in our retirement programs.
Let's face it. We are ALL going to have to work until we are at least
70 or our cherishes public institutions will inevitably go bankrupt.
It is crucial in times of financial stress, especially in a globally
competitive market place, that we invest in the future. History is
clear: states, nations, and periods of greater investment are followed
by states, nations, and periods of greater prosperity. Conversely,
data demonstrates convincingly that states that fail to invest in
themselves, or who adopt "no new tax" stances, realize reduced
prosperity. Minnesota’s leadership will be judged by its ability to
facilitate an informed, bipartisan and shared vision that looks beyond
managing today and toward creating a better tomorrow—for everyone.
First do no harm. We have in place systems and practices that have
served us well in the past and will in the future. To dismantle them
in the pursuit of some instant solution to long smoldering problems is
neither good nor effective. The public needs to feel that the
administration is in control. The long and loud discussion of the
shortfall in the budget projections is just that, a comparison of what
may be with what may have been spent. Let's get the spending in line
with the income. If this means a lessening of government activity so
be it. Just like our contacts with clerks in stores and service folks
in businesses have decreased perhaps our contacts with government
offices will decrease or become more difficult. Snow may take longer
to plow and other services less effective, but so be it. Keep the
basics in place and perhaps move some funding to making those portions
of the budget better through efficiencies. On line MV licenses are a
good example of that kind of practice, more can be done in that vein.
Concentrate our limited resources on issues that are within our
control: education and transportation. Health care is a national
All Minnesotans must participate in the cost control of government;
this is particularly true of education and medical costs which have
been expanding at double digit rates. I would also suggest looking at
policy changes which may entice retirees to retain their residency
here in Minnesota; this includes, not only the income tax itself, but
capital gains taxes, taxes on retirement funds and the inheritance
tax. We choose to ignore this, even though these folks have the
highest disposable income.
Its preamble tells us that the Minnesota Constitution was written to
secure and perpetuate the blessings of liberty for ourselves and
posterity. Government cannot grant liberty; only take it away. That
government which governs least therefore governs best.
Government fosters liberty by staying out of the way. Liberty includes
the freedom to experience personal responsibility for our successes
and its antipode; our failures.
Our budgetary issue will not be best solved through the redistribution
of liberty and its fungible proxy. Don’t even think about higher
taxes. Pain is a consequence of poor governance; let’s embrace it and
do better tomorrow.
You won the election to be Governor two years ago by a slim margin,
and I believe you even used the word "humbled" to describe your
feelings on your re-election. You are the Governor of all Minnesotans,
and I would encourage you in these challenging times to show more
willingness to reach out to all.
While you have been good at identifying potential areas of savings,
(yes to the airport and yes to the lottery), you have been far from
creative or brave. With the exception of a few very rural districts
that have had to face the choice of what the primary function of a
public school is and have come to the conclusion that it is education,
no one is looking at the real cost of sports programs. By forcing the
shifting of these costs to local communities and off the education
ledger we can than make real cuts in education funding without
sacrificing our primary goal of teaching and it has been proposed
before. Then there is the up to $1.5 billion plus in costs that could
be realized by the State and counties as well as the $.5 billion in
sales taxes that could be generated by the ending of the prohibition
on marijuana. The medicinal marijuana issue will be back before the
legislature again this year and as before law enforcements rejection
will again center around the supply side of this issue. Full
legalization is the only solution that makes any real sense. Where
does it say an intoxicant must be lethal to be legal? That is the
standard we all live by with alcohol now. About 3,000 21 year olds die
of alcohol poisoning on or shortly after their 21st birthday, three
times that many more die in alcohol related accidents isn't that a
"Happy Birthday". Yet not one deadly overdose ever from the medicinal
Given the budget crisis at the state level and that it coincides with
budget crises in the homes of many constituents, the Governor needs to
show his leadership in the personal as well as political spheres. Tell
us what he expects of us in order to pull ourselves through this
crisis, and show us that he is practicing what he preaches. Also, he
needs to show that he understands the impacts of the choices he makes.
If we have to accept cuts in our programming that have a real impact
on people's lives, show us that he understands those impacts, that
he's not acting ruthlessly.
Minnesota has over 80 counties, many of which have only a few thousand
people living within their borders. Each county has things like
sheriff's, county boards, road departments, jails, etc., etc. The
possibilities for savings of truly large sums of money are pretty
obvious, here in the digital age. If we could get the state to operate
with, say, 10-15 counties, why not?
After we get that done we can tackle the urban sprawl in the Metro
area and the equal number of redundant governments.
Every unit of government needs to make a thorough assessment of its
expenditures. This would include such things as the following:
1. Perform an historical chart of services and programs that are
currently being provided on a department by department basis and each
year over the last 20 years. Where has the growth in services and
programs been? What is essential vs. what is just desirable?
2. How many people are employed in each of the services and/or
departments reviewed? What are the wage rates in each department, from
top to bottom? With longevity of employment and possible automatic
wage rate increases, are the costs of some programs getting out of
3. Related to #2 above, what are the benefits that are provided, both
present and future? Are we creating more not yet on the books pension
and post retirement health care costs that will be assigned to the
taxpayers? I have in mind the Minneapolis police pension issues.
4. Such analysis must be done by outsiders. One of the major problems
in performing any such assessment is that value judgments can, and
often do interfere with the analysis process. In other words, I guess
I am suggesting zero based budgeting. Once a program is in place the
usual goal of the administrators is, and rightfully should be, "how do
we improve our product and our service"? Such thinking then moves to
good and useful ideas for other and additional services and programs.
Any truthful analysis as suggested above would undoubtedly result in
personnel reduction. From my vantage point, when it comes to
government employees, it seems that if persons lose a job they find
another position in another unit of government. St. Paul mayor Coleman
stated today, he has asked all departments to prepare for a 20%
reduction in available funding. I don't think that is the correct
approach. That thinking assumes that all services and programs are of
equal value. That obviously, is not the case. That is enough for now.
We have and will continue to have a huge problem, not just for 2009,
but also for several years to come. I have commented only on local
government level matters. Anything beyond that is too big for me, but
as the old saying goes: "All politics are local".
Here are some key points that I'd like to see him convey:
- I'm a leader for all of Minnesota. (not simply the no new tax base
that has helped him only squeak out narrow victories).
- Here is my vision for Minnesota (fill in the blanks) (I have no clue
what his vision is for this state except not allowing new taxes).
- Here is how we are going to accomplish this vision together and make
Minnesota the best place in the country to grow up, work and grow old.
Locked into a no new taxes pledge, and privatizing assets is no way to
dig out of a financial morass. People are willing to pay to maintain
the quality of life in MN. A rollback of the tax breaks to the top 1%,
a reasonable tax on clothing, taxing internet purchases to place local
businesses on equal footing would be a place to start and be
Invest in research, technology, education and infrastructure and
policies that retain our investment. Establish proper transit
standards for high cost transit including performance, new ridership,
return on investment, operating and maintenance and fares. Tax fairly
based upon the ability to pay and to retain educated individuals and
our seniors. Divorce the state from controlling the Metropolitan
Council so they are responsible to the metropolitan citizens.
Tell it to us straight. No sugar coating. Give us the truth about
Minnesota's future. Then give us reason to hope.
Uphold the MN. Republican Party platform and restore the Metropolitan
Waste Control Commission separate from Met. Transit. The original Met.
Council as a planning agency with no authority may be acceptable. The
current housing policies are having a devastating effect on first ring
suburbs. Met Transit is too heavily subsidized. Dramatically increase
fares. Write off this failed experiment and restore good
government...there's millions to be saved.
It is a brand new ballgame. Fiscal imprudence, governmental and
personal, has led to a state budget crisis. I see little urgency in
the reaction of the Administration so far: "no new taxes" is not
leadership. On the spending side the budget must be divided into
necessary programs (judicial system, public safety, education),
desirable programs and items which can be, for now, set aside. Each of
these programs will have its advocates. Choices must be made, now. On
the revenue side, the dollars must come from taxes and fees, both of
which on present formulae will be declining in this economic
environments. Sale of assets might provide relief, but not
immediately; (as is the case with toll roads and other fee revenue
producers.) Which taxes must be raised, and by how much? I have
concerns about the ability of the present department heads to look
broadly as they are appointed with a specific portfolio, and, further,
appear to have deficient systems in place to manage the public fisc.
(A check for $1.3 million simply typed and put in the mail?) There are
really good people who can and should be consulted now (Gunyou,
Kiedrowski). We are on a road to nowhere (or to just being a cold
Omaha); we need to return to our status as the premier urban area of
the northern plains.
That sometimes when times are tough, citizens need to think about more
than just getting tax breaks. We have seen that our economy has been
gutted, and the deficits continue to haunt the taxpayer, however, we
need to realize that in order to have a good quality of life, we need
to streamline the government and get back to the basics of what the
government is charged with Basically, that would be providing and
equal public education for all, building, maintaining and rebuilding
failing infrastructure, and providing for the public safety. These
issues are too important to be trumped by a cheap "re-election"
promise or bribe to the public to reduce their taxes when times are
tough, however, we should not be bailing out private business, no
matter what the circumstances.