Let's remember Monday, December 11, 2017, as the day Minnesota stopped believing in reality, and started believing in the USA Today.
That newspaper has listed Minnesota No. 1 in its annual list of "best-run" states, a deeply researched project which it actually outsources to something called 24/7 Wall Street. Minnesota got high marks for a low unemployment rate (3.9 percent), good ratings from credit agencies, being "relatively wealthy," and a not-that-low poverty rate of 9.9 percent, which, sadly, is the sixth-lowest rate in the country.
This good "news" was swiftly heralded by Gov. Mark Dayton's administration, which issued a press release to congratulate us on being the 50th least-shittily run state, as assessed by America's leading producer of affordable fire-starting materials.
"Our Administration has worked hard," Dayton said, "to make state government work better for the people of Minnesota -- and we are not done yet."
Uh, governor? Not to interrupt this totally deserved victory lap, but, uh... what about...
The Minnesota Supreme Court on Thursday upheld Gov. Mark Dayton’s line-item veto of the Legislature’s operating budget, declining to referee a political dispute between two co-equal branches of government that it said could resolve the issue themselves.
The 5-1 decision handed the Democratic governor a major legal victory as he seeks to roll back Republican-backed tax breaks and other measures he opposed but signed into law anyway this spring as part of a new state budget. And it left the Legislature on uncertain financial footing. Dayton welcomed the ruling while GOP lawmakers expressed dismay.
Schoen will be joined in retirement by Republican Rep. Tony Cornish, who said on Tuesday that he plans to step down on Dec. 1 after serving eight terms in the House. He was facing an outside investigation into allegations that he propositioned lobbyist Sarah Walker for sex more than 40 times.
Democrats in the Minnesota House say they know of a sexual harassment complaint filed between 2013 and 2015 but refuse to name the person it was filed against. House Republican leaders quietly settled a $72,500 employee discrimination lawsuit without ever informing their Democratic counterparts. Legislative leaders in the House and Senate have declined to disclose sexual harassment complaints involving senators or representatives. They also say there is no record of settlements involving taxpayer money — a statement difficult to verify considering their budget documents are not accessible to the public.
The backlog of vehicle titles and registrations in Minnesota’s new computer system has gotten so big that a supervisor recently instructed staff to focus on speed and “accept the additional risk of errors in our work.” An internal memo obtained by the Pioneer Press also described bureaucratic work for more expensive vehicles as “more critical” than the same tasks for lower-priced ones.
Last year alone, the Minnesota Department of Health received 25,226 allegations of neglect, physical abuse, unexplained serious injuries, and thefts in state-licensed homes for the elderly. Ninety-seven percent were never investigated.
Minnesota’s political leaders say that a $188 million budget deficit over the next 18 months is cause for concern but not panic... Meanwhile, DFL Gov. Mark Dayton and Republican majorities in the Legislature used much of the state’s $1.65 billion surplus projected earlier this year to cut taxes, prop up the state’s individual insurance market and increase spending to a range of state programs — leaving little wiggle room if the economy slows down after years of growth.
The Republican tax bill passed by the Legislature included a curious lifeline in this day and age: a tax break for smokers. Or more accurately, a yuge tax break for smokers. To be exact: $300 million over the next decade. The cuts include lowering premium cigar taxes from $3.50 to 50 cents, and freezing cigarette excise taxes at $3 a pack.
and man, do you remember this bullshit?
Another spending bill carries an explicit prohibition to halt the banning of plastic bags, weeks before a ban would’ve started in Minneapolis. (None of the Republicans who voted for it actually live in Minneapolis or St. Paul, though many of their masters at the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce do.) A tax cut bill carried provisions to block a single dollar being spent on light rail. Protections to stop internet providers from selling your browser history were stricken. A health-care funding bill halved scheduled raises for home health-care workers, who bathe, feed, and keep alive sick people who have no one else.
That was six months ago! Something's wrong here. Perhaps we can no longer trust what we read from the USA Today and 24/7 Wall Street. That, apparently, is a world we are not prepared to face.
Instead, we must draw another conclusion: This study is right, and Minnesota actually is faring well -- the "best" -- but only when compared to other American states, which one is forced to conclude are only barely able to sustain human life at this point.
Our deepest thanks for the compliment, USA Today, and for deepening our understanding of America, and how great we're all doing.
Just out of curiosity, in case someone's interested in exploring other options, would you let us know when you do a ranking of the best-run provinces in Canada? Asking for a friend state.
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