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Dick Palmer: Ah yes, to taxor not to tax . . .

The word sickening is the subtle interpretation of events as the 2002 legislative process grinds on politically vs. responsibly. It used to happen every other year, but now it is every year as goring the opposition's ox is the primary objective. ...

The word sickening is the subtle interpretation of events as the 2002 legislative process grinds on politically vs. responsibly. It used to happen every other year, but now it is every year as goring the opposition's ox is the primary objective. Never mind the long-term consequences of all this you know what ... (nonsense?)
Apparently, everyone seems to agree that Minnesota will come up short in the budget process by a couple of billion dollars. Naturally, this is shocking considering the great economic ride we have all been on in recent years. Even though economists are predicting a fast turnaround to our recession, figures on the table suggest a $1.9 billion deficit during this current budget ordeal with more bad news predicted in the next biennium. What to do is naturally the call dumped on the desks of our legislators.
Wait a moment, it is really the governor's immediate concern because he sets the budget with legislative approval. Ah yes, to tax or not to tax ... is a political question of major implications and Jesse "the Mind" is right in the middle of a tug of war featuring the good, the bad and the clever.
Ventura vetoed the so-called bipartisan tax bill last week, and then the House and Senate were challenged to override that veto. It failed in the House by three votes and then a move to reconsider overwhelmingly passed in the House. The Senate is expected to also pass the bill. Now the DFL controlled Senate and the Republican House must roll up collective sleeves and conjure up individual bills that ultimately will again go to the governor for his signature. So much for bipartisan politics at its worst.
Look at it this way. No legislator wants his name recorded on a bill that suggests raising taxes. This is an election year, and getting re-elected is the primary concern of all legislators because all seats will be on the ballot this fall including the governor plus constitutional offices. Unfortunately, a session that was earmarked to support capital improvements will spend most of its remaining time jockeying for position. The players will use camouflaged makeup blaming, accusing and skirting the very essence of the debate; our state treasury needs an infusion of money or a necessary cutback in goods and services to balance the established budget.
The cop-out here suggests that the state use surplus tax dollars to "tide us over" until the next biennium and then address the issue. Being realistic, it was just a few years ago when devastating floodwaters practically drowned Grand Forks and the Fargo-Moorhead area to the south. These things happen, and a responsible state government needs to be prepared. Our legislative leadership would rather hide behind this pseudo cushion than bite the bullet that is, cut unnecessary waste in government or raise taxes or both. Is there really any other way to be honest with the people?
Ask your local legislator to explain his or her position. They owe that much to you.
Dick Palmer is the former editor and publisher of the Budgeteer News. He may be reached by telephone at 729-6470 or by e-mail at rpalmer@duluth.com .

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