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My big fat rant


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Just a side note on Ventura: Every budget proposal of his was smaller than the Republicans' proposal. He believed that by cutting the state budget as much as possible, he would be helping the state of Minnesota.

He reformed the tax system to "bring tax relief to rural Minnesotans" by taking the school funding portion out of the property tax and putting it in the income tax. He did not raise the income tax to do this, becuase we had a huge surplus. He didn't think we'd ever have another recession.. God knows what he was thinking.

Anyway, with the property tax system, school districts were funded based on property value in the district, not by number of students, so districts with declining enrollment (almost all of them in the state except a few fast growing suburban districts) were surviving. Funding was staying relatively flat because state funding still made up 60% of the budget, but the ever rising property values offset this inbalance.

When he "reformed" the system and sent Minnesotans pocket change in the mail, 85% of funding started coming from the state, so 85 cents from every dollar of funding was based on how many students were enrolled in the school. My districts enrollment fell from 5600 students in 1997 to 4900 in 2004. With flat per student funding along with fast declines in student numbers and extremely high increases in insurance (after Sept. 11) and transportation costs (my district is the size of Rhode Island, but has only 5000 students, and all of them must be bussed to school), the school had to do a lot of cutting.

2 elementary schools were closed, over 25% of the teachers were cut from the budget, heaters were turned down in the winter, and countless programs were cut. Class sizes in fifth grade went from 21 to 31 in 3 years. Kindergarten from 17 to 23, and middle school from 24 to 32. Teachers with 10 years of experience in the district were let go.

Now, thanks to our wonderful Republican governor, Tim Pawlenty, and his "no new taxes" pledge, we are put in a dangerous situation.

From a $2 billion surplus in 1998 to a $4 billion deficit in 2002, Pawlenty hacked the state budget to pieces. He cut state medical funding for poor people, he held education spending flat and cut specific programs to schools like Early childhood ed. (that the federal government is supposed to pay for anyway, but doesn't.), and cut major amounts of aid to cities (To keep property taxes lower, the state raised the income tax years ago and began giving aid to cities in that form in order to make the system more equal between rich and poor cities.)

this, in turn, prompted cities to raise property taxes, and they rose 10-15% per year for 2 years and are again rising this much this year. This, coupled with massive appreication on property has caused property tax bills to triple, much higher than they were before Ventura and his magic cutting scheme. This has been especially dangerous for senior citizens and the poor, who often live on a fixed income but live in houses that are gaining in value.

At the same time, deep cuts to state colleges and Universities have cuased tuitions to rise almost 100% in the past 5 years at many schools. This has turned many away from college.

I would like to know where these politicians get it in their heads that "tax cuts will help the average man" when in fact, now, the average man is paying a higher share of taxes than his richest counterpart, many people have lost their health insurance, and still others cannot go to college to further their education!

Tax cuts will help the average man... but Minnesotans made a decision long ago that the type of society that they wanted was a high tax, high service society in which everyone has health care, a good education, a roof over their heads, and a decent helping of meat and potatos on their table. The new "conservatives" are trying to take over the state by playing their little "culture" game and pitting one group against the other on issues like gay marriage, the death penalty, and abortion. These are not issues that they will ever act on. But they sure seem to talk about it a lot while at the same time, they make drastic cuts to taxes for the rich, cuts to programs for the poor, and let companies get away with sending their operations overseas, tax free. This is not something I see from traditional conservatives in our state or liberals! (And by traditional conservative and liberal, I mean in the fiscal sense.)

Case in point: My state senator is Carrie Ruud, a republican from a tourism heavy area of Minnesota. She's fighting hard for property tax relief and has asked Tim Pawlenty to raise the income tax rate for the top 3% of income earners to make up for it. Does that make her an evil liberal? No! She wants to save the many family resorts that are going out of business in her district because of soaring property tax rates. She wants to ensure that these people stay around so that the economy of our state keeps going strong. She's a republican that I can vote for!

At the same time, we have the likes of Mark Kennedy, a man with no balls. He totes the Bush administration's political line like it's holding him up from a nasty death. He voted yes on CAFTA, to the dismay of Minnesotans and the large sugar beet farming economy in the northern part of the state. He voted yes on the budget bill that made it much more expensive for students to attend the college that he attended (with lots of financial aid) and allowed for drilling hte arctic, another thing that Minnesotans didn't want. (Indicated from polls. In fact, Norm Coleman, a senator from Minnesota, and a republican, voted against the bill that included drilling in ANWR becuase he knew he'd lose his senate seat if he did.)

Good riddance to Mark Kennedy. Even now, he is trailing quite dangerously in polls against all of the potential opponents in the 2006 U.S senate race... including his previous opponent for the house race, Patty Wetterling, who has called for a complete removal of troops from Iraq by thanksgiving 2006.

Either way, please realize that this is just a big rant on my part, underlining a few of the frustrations that I have with my state government. I mean no harm out there to those who really do take issues like abortion and the death penalty very seriously. Just realize that I believe it's more important that the guy that lost his job has food on his table and the tools to get a new job than whether or not Joe and Jim just got married.

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