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Compromise is not a dirty word

This week we got another reminder of the hidden cost of our elected leaders failing to get along: Minnesota's credit rating was cut by S&P, meaning the state will have to pay more to fund projects like road construction and buildings.

The downgrade in Minnesota echoed one in Washington. Instead of fixing problems, the Minnesota Legislature dug in and finally settled on one-time band-aids to get through this year. This was after the governor and the Legislature went beyond the brink of their mandate to get a budget done during the session.

Not only did all sides pan the "compromise" as inadequate immediately after it was done, but now the other shoe drops. Minnesota's credit rating was cut from AAA to AA-plus. The last time that happened it took the state 15 years to regain AAA status.

And what do the fair citizens of Minnesota get? A larger bill for interest in the long term. And like Washington, Minnesota's wounds look to be almost entirely self-inflicted.

We can't stay on this path.

When candidates are making their 2012 election pitches, we should all have one question above all others: are you willing to do what it takes to fix Minnesota's messes, even if that means working with people across the aisle?

Perhaps politicians will stop painting their opponents as evil incarnate so when they get in the same building with them, they can actually work together.

Maybe, but it looks like the ratings agencies have lost hope that might happen.