Reflected Beauty

Although Gov. Ventura’s proposed budget has been quite controversial, and many have objected to certain provisions, buried deep inside is a generous plan to aid illegal aliens. The provision set to take effect this summer will require state employees to report any suspected illegal aliens who are seeking health care for their children to the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service.
It is quite encouraging that Gov. Ventura understands the likely consequences of requiring hospitals to report illegal aliens. The federal government repealed similar regulations due to civil rights concerns.
The provision will not stop illegal immigrants from coming to Minnesota to find work in the summer. Instead, it will only halt them in seeking help for their children. The children deserve good health care and it is unfair to make them suffer for the acts of their parents.
Although Gov. Ventura’s proposed two-year budget is forcing many programs that have relied on state aid to look elsewhere for funding, Ventura did leave room in the budget for $4 million in repairs to the state-owned Governor’s Mansion.
While the mansion itself is only worth about $3.5 million, Ventura is seeking $4 million to renovate the building, and bring sections of it up to code.
The repairs include new stairs, better fire alarms, an improved security system, an elevator for the handicapped, a modern kitchen to better accommodate the large number of official guests that are served at the mansion each week and a more efficient heating and cooling system.
Since the mansion was donated in 1965, the state has put $3.5 million into the building, above the annual cost of $48,000 used to pay for utilities, property taxes and insurance. And although the cost of renovation might seem expensive, Ventura, however, does have another solution — tear it down and build another one.
While certainly this alternative may be less expensive, unfortunately, it doesn’t account for the mansion’s historical value to the state. Built on St. Paul’s historic Summit Avenue during the early 1900s, the mansion has been the home of six governors and has hosted a variety of events. Preserving the mansion is vital to preserving Minnesota history.
Although some of the repairs are certainly necessary and should be completed, perhaps Ventura should understand the methods previous families have used to make improvements. The five families who have made their home there have held fund-raising events for needed improvements. Perhaps the governor should understand how to look elsewhere for funding just as many other state programs will do this year.
Part of Gov. Ventura’s tax plan is his aspiration for a change in the sales tax. The governor’s two-pronged proposal would include reducing the current sales tax rate from 6.5 percent to 6 percent, while expanding the tax to a wider range of services. The governor rightly states that by expanding the sales tax to services, he will make the tax system a bit more equitable.
Additionally, the boon the state’s economy would receive is considerable. Taxing for a wider range of services — even though under a slightly reduced rate — could possibly bring in $400 million to $500 million.
Though he has not specified exactly what services he would tax, he has already stated that exemptions will continue for essentials including food, home-heating fuels and clothing, as well as health care, child care and education. Taxing nonessential services such as accountants, dating services and car washes does make sense when trying to equalize the tax system. As Ventura correctly points out, consumer choice will become more of a determining factor in how people are taxed. The full impact of Ventura’s tax plan, as well as some more specific details, must be closely examined before a final determination can be made as to the positives and negatives which can be brought to the state.