"He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left."
Matthew 25:33

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


The Civic Caucus is a non-partisan group that conducts discussions and surveys on public policies within Minnesota. They conduct weekly meetings and share the information from these meetings via email along with a questionnaire. Recipients of these emails provide input to the issues important to our state on any and all issues that we are confronted with. This input is from a broad cross section of citizens.

Recently we were asked to provide input for what is called "Messages to Governor Pawlenty," which was forwarded to the Governor in the hope that he will use this input in his upcoming State of the State Address. The responses to this were all over the map, things such as legalizing marijuana and raising taxes all the way to responsible fiscal leadership and more balance between state revenue income and expenditures.

Here is a sample from Senator Dave 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 citizens.

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 infrastructure.

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.

You can read the more from Messages to Governor Pawlenty at,

Check out the Civic Caucus at,

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