MuniLand

Irresponsible debt practices

Politicians start telling the truth

In response to Moody’s placing the state’s Aaa credit rating on review, Tennessee’s News Channel 5 filed this story and video, two very good examples of a state government reacting to a possible downgrade. In the video, municipal bond expert and Metro Councilmember Emily Evans says:

There is no getting away from the fact that we have engaged in debt practices that have been irresponsible and we are going to pay a price and we need to pony up and pay it.

Our massive debt load is a large issue overhanging America and a big bump in the road to economic recovery. Facing the facts and telling the truth are necessary to start the process of getting fiscal houses in order.

Further: Bond Buyer: Debt Fight Sparking Muni Fears

State tax-collection data looks good

From the Rockefeller Institute’s latest report:

Total state tax collections as well as collections from two major sources — taxes on sales and personal income — showed growth for the fifth consecutive quarter, following five straight quarters of decline. Overall state tax revenues in the first quarter of 2011 increased by 9.3 percent from the same quarter of the previous year.

Also from the Tax Foundation: Monday Map: State and Local Sales Tax Rates, 2011

Minnesota gets it done finally

It’s not perfect but it’s finished. Reuters reports:

The Minnesota legislature approved on Wednesday in a marathon special session all the budget bills needed to end a state government shutdown that has lasted nearly three weeks.

A little of this, a little of that

Minnesota reaches a deal

Minnesota agrees on a budget, ending a two week shutdown. But is it just accounting tricks? From the NewsObserver.com (emphasis mine):

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton and top Republicans agreed Thursday to end a budget impasse that prompted the longest state government shutdown in recent history.

Dayton said the state government would be back in business “very soon,” but he didn’t say exactly when.

The land of 10,000 lakes

It’s hard to imagine a more beautiful name for a state than Minnesota, which comes from a Dakota Sioux word for “sky-tinted water.” Today the state is popularly known as the “Land of 10,000 Lakes,” a nickname that conjures up images of primal forests, deep waterways and lots of summer mosquitoes.

The reasonable-looking man in the video above is Mark Dayton, the governor of Minnesota. Governor Dayton, a Democrat, has shut down the state government over an impasse with Republicans in the state legislature. Bloomberg reports:

The 12-day impasse is the longest of the nation’s six state government shutdowns since 2002 by four days, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. It has idled about 23,000 state workers, closed agencies and stopped construction projects statewide.

“Unrelenting rigidity”

“Unrelenting rigidity”

It feels as though American politics has become a war. The battle is not about civil rights or women’s suffrage; it’s a war about how large a role the government should play in the redistribution of income and the support of the people. There is plenty of room to disagree on these issues.

Throughout our history, there have been Americans who have suffered, and in the current faltering recovery, there are an exceptionally high number of people suffering. This makes the current war over reducing entitlements seem especially harsh.Unfortunately, Democrats and Republicans have taken rock-hard positions and have refused to come down from their pulpits. Minnesota has shut down the state government for seven days because the Democrats and Republicans refuse to even meet to discuss a compromise. From the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

In Minnesota, it remains uncertain whether results can be expected from an ad hoc budget group formed this week by former Republican Gov. Arne Carlson and former Vice President Walter Mondale, a Democrat.

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