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Letter: Budget-balancing tricker

I am writing in response to a letter from Eric Nordstrom that appeared on this page Oct. 8. He criticizes my recent letter that suggests that we look closely at the role that Joe Gimse and Bruce Vogel played in shutting down Minnesota in the summer of 2011.

At that time the only question was whether to balance the state budget by a combination of spending cuts and tax increases on the wealthy, as proposed by Gov. Dayton, or by only cutting spending and borrowing the rest, as Gimse and Vogel insisted.

The governor was willing to compromise on the tax issue. He proposed that income taxes be increased on only those with annual taxable income of more than $1 million. This is a group, many of whom don't even live in Minnesota, who on average pay a lower percentage of their income in state and local taxes than do ordinary working people. Gimse, Vogel, and the other Republicans refused to tax millionaires by one penny more, even when it meant the longest shutdown in state history.

I have heard nothing that would suggest that they won't shut down the state again if they have to choose between requiring millionaires to pay their fair share of the tax burden and shutting down the state again. We should ask them about that before we vote. Nordstrom appears to be just another apologist for wealthy people who don't want to pay their fair share.

Now, Gimse and Vogel are claiming they turned a $6 billion deficit into a $1 billion budget surplus. That should win them the Golden Pinocchio prize. In fact, they "balanced" the state budget by forcing the schools to lend them the money. They now owe the schools about $2.4 billion, and they borrowed an additional $700 million against future revenues. Don't be fooled again.

John Burns