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Blue Ribbon

A deal to end the Minnesota shutdown is still being hammered out, but the broad agreement is clear – it’s not going to be anything but a punt until the next one.  We all expected that left and right would both hate the compromise, but in a stunning twist both sides hate the deal for the same reason – it’s all gimmicks and passes on real reform.

No one reasonably expected major reform in this bill, given the late hour, but there isn’t even the promise of any later on down the road.  That means it’s up to us, the citizens of Minnesota, to push for something before next January.

The plan has many horrible features, but the main one is that it relies on more delayed payments to school districts.  The existing delay of about 10% of a district’s budget is increased to 30%, meaning you can take the previous analysis and roughly triple it until we get better numbers.  Borrowing will make up the difference, something that small districts and charter schools may find nearly impossible.  We won’t be able to do this forever.  We have to find a solution one way or another.

The big problems in our budget are these three:

1)  Changing state demographics, which is to say that the Baby Boom generation is moving towards retirement, among other things, which makes for more dependent people per worker than before.
2)  A reliance on formulas to put most of the budget on “auto-pilot” over the last 20 years.
3)  The use of one-time revenue sources to balance budget holes for about 6 years.

Many are calling for a “Blue Ribbon Task Force” of political, civic, and business leaders to get together in a very public way and craft a new system that gets us past these problems.  I suggested the Citizen’s League be heavily involved as a way to make sure that more ordinary Minnesotans get a voice in the process.

I was wrong when I guessed that such a thing would serve as a way out of the budget problems for this year.  But sooner or later we’ll run out of money to shift and push around and have to do something like this.  Why not now?

There are a lot of ideas floating around, some of which have made it into the press.  If you know of other calls and ideas please post them in comments so that we can gather them in one place.  Meanwhile, how do we start getting organized to make something like this happen?

18 thoughts on “Blue Ribbon

  1. I think the politicians need to know that we’re watching them and expect them to make the hard choices. They feel that they are punished for doing the right thing & I understand that but we have to reverse it. Make it clear that doing the wrong thing is far worse. Maybe something like you say here would get that message through but it would have to be a big public deal to work.

  2. Anna, that’s what I mean here. We need a kind of political movement, one centered on this one very big issue. I think that to get broad support and a lot of involvement from people that otherwise might not get involved we should make it clear that there is one single goal – fix this mess.

    We live in a Democratic Republic, which is to say that we can’t always blame the leadership for our problems – it’s our job. We have to organize and come up with alternatives. And yes, make as big of a deal as possible.

    I think that Tim Penny had a lot of good ideas he’s assembled from various places that make a good start, but there is a even more than that. I don’t think we are helpless – it’s still a strong state overall.

  3. You and I have talked about this before. It’s time we get some adult supervision. If that is led by a Blue Ribbon Task Force that would be great but I think it takes a lot more than that.

  4. meanwhile the planet loses another 100 species today. Maybe that is the real issue. you should do an article on the suffragettes in England or MN and how the mobilized. perhaps the gulf coast could use people with the dedication,

  5. sorry about my prior comment. I’ve been reading some pretty deep stuff lately The pity of War and Deep green resistance. Another idea (seriously) an essay on horizontal hostility.

  6. Dale: That’s more or less the issue, yes. What would it take to organize around reform? It’s a snooze as an issue, but you are right here.

  7. I don’t know how you get a real movement together, but if this doesn’t convince people the state is broken I don’t know what will. It is incapable of making a real decision because of partisan politics.

    I think we have to wait until the next election before we get anything new, but I guess it doesn’t hurt to try in the meantime.

  8. Before we get excited about these leaders that are supposed to save Minnesota I think we should ask where they have been for the last however many years it took us to get into this mess. I think you’ll find many were backing the same politicians that got us into trouble in the first place.

  9. This may seem off-topic, but those of us leaning progressive, from center to the extreme acn’t seem to get the message out.
    We live in a era of “Bumper Sticker” and “Sound Bite” framing of issues, the the GOP are masters of this type of framing. I credit this for the electoral shellacking the DFL and any remaining RINOs took in the ’10 elections statewide.
    We tend to answer that framing with 600 word essays…and the very people being affected by what our legislature does won’t read but a line before moving on.
    In the early 90′s one of my neighbors had a bumper-sticker on her car that read: “HATRED is NOT a Family Value.” I had her get me one of the stickers…not knowing or caring that it was an LBGT campaign. Later, I read a blog-post by an extremely conservative minister going to great lengths to explain how “sometimes, hatred is a family value.”
    A challenge for your next post, Erik: Come up with a few “Bumper Sticker” and “Sound Bite” framing of issues…
    Just a thought.

  10. Jack, I don’t think that’s off topic. It’s moving this more towards the direction I should have taken in the first place, which is how can we organize people to get some positive action.

    A few quick ideas for bumperstickers for center / lefties:

    “If we do not hang together we shall surely hang separately”
    (that’s a Ben Franklin quote, BTW, on the Continental Congress)
    “The center must hold”
    “Politics is just not all about YOU”
    “We are stronger together than we are alone”

    Dunno if it’s getting the right direction or not, but I’d love to hear what other people have in mind!

    • “Tax Cuts Kill Jobs” “Vote GOP & Jobs go to China” “Plymouth Pilgrims were Illegal Aliens” “Thomas Jefferson was a Liberal”

  11. Wow. Anna, that’s impressive! Jack, those are good, too! We may have to whip out the ol’ voting system here.

    Sarah: How about this for a slogan:
    “I’ll take tax & spend over borrow & spend”

  12. Sometimes I think people are looking for technical solutions to a political problem. What’s needed here is what unions used to call “political education.” Ie, how to evaluate candidates against one’s own interests. As long as large numbers of Minnesotans vote for wingnuts, the political system will be in chaos…….

  13. Pingback: Adult Supervision | Barataria – The work of Erik Hare

  14. No new slogans, but I’ll try to compile what we have & see what we can do with it. There’s some good stuff here!

    Alan: You’re absolutely right. I just saw another lengthy screed about how IRV will solve this problem, which utterly misses the point. There’s never any substitute for an informed and involved citizenry. I know I won’t agree with everyone, but we can’t call ourselves a Democratic Republic if we can’t even talk about these things (that is, without going into personal attacks, etc)

  15. Pingback: Moving the Economy Forward | Barataria – The work of Erik Hare

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