I used to write to you a lot when I was younger, and having just come through the recent election season and having received many promises from false Santas, I thought I should write to the real one. Assuming that you and the elves are still in the business of fulfilling requests—or fervent wishes—these are mine.
Mark Dayton is the first DFL governor since Rudy Perpich was reelected in 1986; the first DFL nonincumbent elected since Wendell Anderson in 1970 (Perpich was a former governor when he ran in 1982). While the Minnesota House of Representatives has sometimes switched between Republican and Democratic control, this is the first GOP Senate majority since 1972, when candidates’ party designation reappeared on ballots after being disallowed for decades.
It seemed during this last election that all office seekers were promising higher taxes (but not on actual voters, who would have lower taxes), higher expenditures for all kinds of education and social benefits, and unspecified cuts to programs riddled with fraud and abuse.
My wish, Santa, is that you give us exactly that. But, should the inconvenient laws of economics bar that outcome, most of us would settle for a reduction in state spending of approximately $2 billion for the next biennium; a modest tax increase (possibly achieved through sales tax and upper-income surtax) of approximately $2 billion; and education shifts and deferrals of another $2 billion to make up for our $6 billion deficit. This won’t make anybody very happy, but we promise not to blame you.
The budget promises made by those who ran for federal office must truly have made you blush. With defense accounting for around 59 percent of our deficit, entitlements making up most of the rest, plus statutory interest payments—well, one of your elves can do the math.