Rep. Keith Downey's "Jobs task force is stirring the wrong pot" (Opinion Exchange, Nov. 10) asserts that state government "has been growing twice as fast as the economy," but by what measure?
In fact, the portion of personal income we invest in services and infrastructure through state and local governments has fallen -- from around 17.5 percent throughout the 1990s to about 15.5 percent in 2008.
Downey also asks us to consider how much smaller our budget would be if only "spending had grown at the healthy rate of inflation plus population growth." Colorado already tried that. Voters and the Republican governor who'd enacted a constitutional amendment limiting budget growth finally cried for a halt to such "healthy" spending restrictions before the Rocky Mountain state hit rock bottom.
Finally, Downey claims "businesses are voting with their feet" because more businesses moved out of Minnesota than moved in. But studies consistently show business migration is a trivial factor in job loss or creation. Using the database Downey cites, Minnesota's net job loss from relocations was only -0.3 percent of the state's total jobs, compared with -0.1 percent for low-tax Florida.
Downey's suggestions about the discussions Minnesotans ought to be having about outcomes are much better and more constructive than his economic analysis.
I don't know that Downey's solutions would be all that great for Minnesota, but he is at least talking about many of the right things when he says "Minnesota businesses don't need gimmicks, handouts or corporate welfare -- but with a level playing field."
- Tax reform [I think he means down; I mean different]
- Close the achievement gap [Do I hear vouchers?]
- Control dramatically increasing costs in health and human services [With equal or better outcomes, I hope]
- Renew local institutions by reducing the size and control of state government [Unfortunately, shrinking state government contributes to local institutions' troubles]
- Have a plan that focuses on long-term reforms with lasting benefit [Amen]
In the same edition, from the Petters trial, this implied investment tip: Don't take investment advice from a guy you met who was in prison on money-laundering charges.
A witness testified "she felt reassured by seeing merchandise in one of the [Petters Warehouse Direct] stores in her neighborhood."
I'd like to hear from others who have ever set foot in a Petters store and felt anything except a desire never to return. You'd find better merchandising, product quality and selection in your average Halloween Store on November 1st.