Class warfare: Winners and losers in the Minnesota budget battle

Among the winners in the finally-concluded Minnesota budget debacle were the richest Minnesotans – the top two percent or one percent or half of one percent, depending on which version of the totally-rejected tax hike you are talking about. The losers include people who need or use government services, from medical assistance to public universities. Just a couple of examples:

• Personal care attendants (PCAs) who provide services to relatives will see a 20 percent wage cut;

• The “state’s investment in higher education will fall below FY 2000-01 levels (and that’s in actual dollars, not inflation-adjusted).” For students, that means higher tuition and less educational resources.

• Charter schools will lose big-time, as they are forced by education funding shifts to borrow money at market-rate interest.

Overall, the poor will pay more or lose out. So will the middle class, who use public schools and universities, public roads and highways and transit systems.

Overall, the decisions on not taxing the rich, at state and federal levels are just one more factor supporting the same old trend: the rich are getting even richer, and the poor are getting poorer. And the middle class? They’re getting poorer, too.

At the top, the wealthiest 5 percent of Americans, who earn more than $180,000, added slightly to their annual incomes last year [2009], census data show. Families at the $50,000 median level slipped lower.

While the richest Minnesotans escaped increased taxation, they are not even the biggest winners in the Minnesota budget debacle. That prize goes to lenders — the financial institutions that will issue and collect interest on the tobacco settlement bonds and will make loans to and collect interest from schools left short by the massive “shift” in education funding.

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