Please buckle your seat belts, Flight 2013 will be coming in for a landing shortly. Make sure your issues are in an upright position, and behave yourselves until we come to a full stop.
Flight 2013 began several gallons short of a full tank, and it seemed as if it might not last until the end of the year. However, with only a few small-calibre piercings of the fuselage, this Flight of Fancy now sees the landing strip coming into view.
We began our trip by predicting that a number of murderers and wanna-bes would be changing residences during the year from Morrison County to St. Cloud, Oak Park Heights and Shakopee. Those occurred for the most part, with only the fate of passenger Byron Smith yet unknown.
We saw a murder-suicide from the air, but otherwise the view of crime was less frequent, and therefore more pleasant, this year than last.
We predicted correctly that the rudder would become stuck to the left over St. Paul.
As suggested, the DFL majority increased state spending about 11.8 percent, helped by a $2 billion tax increase. Government coffers are overflowing once again.
The only clouds on the horizon were reported by forecasters from the Minnesota Society of Public Accountants, which surveyed its members. They reported that the number of businesses looking to leave the state has increased as a result of the higher taxes. Among survey responses, 86 percent said they had received inquiries, and 91 percent said such inquiries had increased. But that may be in the future, and our only concern today is getting Flight 2013 on the ground safely.
As predicted, the Legislature did nothing to drain the fuel tanks of the already wealthy, like Gov. Dayton, although it did make it more difficult for him to pass all of his wealth to his heirs.
In spite of the DFL’s efforts on behalf of labor unions, as predicted labor strife continued to grow. In particular, the Legislature was unable to pass an increase in the minimum wage, saving that sight for next year’s flight.
Also, as predicted, we saw no activity on the new copper-nickel mine in northeastern Minnesota. A new study says it would create an environmental hazard lasting 10 lifetimes. Your pilot suggests if it is too hazardous to mine copper anymore, then save your pennies. Unlike paper money, they at least have a chance of increasing in value.
The Legislature tightened the state’s oversight of sand fracking, as predicted, mostly by allowing state agencies to write more regulations for local units of government to adopt. The Legislature didn’t go so far as to stop sand fracking in the state as it looked like when we took off.
Minnesota managed to add 6,867 jobs in the 12 months ending Oct. 31, and that combined with labor force shrinkage of 13,805 dropped the unemployment rate from 5.0 percent in October 2012 to 4.1 percent in October 2013. The national rate dropped in tandem, and at 6.6 percent remains 2.5 percent higher than the Minnesota rate. Your pilot thought Minnesota’s would not drop as rapidly as the national rate.
Your pilot did not have on his itinerary the performance of gay marriages in this state, thinking that the Legislature would wait for the courts to rule first. But the Legislature didn’t dawdle, and today you can fly over gay marriages in every courthouse in the state.
Republicans proposed that teachers be allowed to tote guns in the classroom, but the DFL majority determined that too many of them would be more likely to shoot themselves in the foot than prevent a school massacre, so killed the idea.
Efforts to force the state’s Electoral College votes to follow the national will, instead of the state’s, went nowhere.
In Washington, as our itinerary predicted, much turbulence occurred over the debt ceiling, but also as predicted, the cloud of debt hanging over the capitol continued to mushroom. The government is still finding people to buy its bonds, even at low interest.
Also, as predicted, we flew over no immigration reform. With divided government, Republicans said respect for the law comes first, and Democrats said they’d rather have Hispanic votes.
And finally, as predicted, efforts to control guns went nowhere.
Flight 2013 may be missing a propeller or two, but for the most part it stayed on course, following the 2013 itinerary laid out last January. In a couple of days, we may even land safely.
Tom West is the editor and general manager of the Record. Reach him at (320) 616-1932 or email [email protected]