Posted: 07/14/11 01:35, Edited: 07/14/11 01:36
by Dave Mindeman
OK - Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch wrote an op-ed for the Star Tribune. Besides being a redundent repetition of Brodkorb talking points, there are things that need discussion...
From Senator Koch --
We need to get government spending under control. Since the beginning of the legislative session, Republican lawmakers have focused on building a budget solution that funds priorities sustainably.
What happened to jobs, jobs, jobs.
The budget we completed in May spent only the amount of revenue we were projected to bring in, which was a 6 percent increase over the previous biennium. Our $34 billion budget increased spending in education and in health and human services.
For the upteenth time...your budget did not include Federal stimulus money and ignores the education shift. If you count the education shift, then the education bill is a massive cut. And the integration funding is eliminated and added back to places where it is needed less. Human services may have an increase but nowhere near what was needed in projections. Can we be honest just a little bit?
Courts, public safety and transportation were held harmless. It was the largest general-fund budget in Minnesota history, but it didn't spend more than what we had in the checkbook.
Courts were held the same even though Republican appointed justices have begged to get more money just to keep up with the work load. Public safety may be the same, but LGA cuts will damage budgets for urban police forces. Spending what was in the checkbook really deals with numbers from a recession that caused much higher unemployment (less taxpayers, more service recipients) than Minnesota has had in years. Less taxpayers, less revenue than needed. Period.
Although we completed our budget before the constitutionally required deadline, Gov. Mark Dayton waited until after we adjourned to veto almost our entire budget. Despite months of hard work by legislators to create a balanced, responsible budget compromise, Dayton succeeded in forcing a government shutdown.
Yes, they met the Consitutionally "required" deadline, but with few public hearings and "show trials" on the governor's proposals. Negotiations were non-existent. The months of hard work were devoted to gun laws, abortion laws, and a proposed marriage discrimination amendment. And still no "jobs, jobs, jobs".
In contrast, during the past 100 days, Republican lawmakers have made 10 budget offers, including three detailed budget compromises, two "blueprint" offers and five official requests that Dayton call a special session for a temporary funding or "lights on" bill.
These so-called compromises did not change total dollar values. These compromises merely moved money around to make some bills look better than others. And requests for lights on will be a "blueprint" to continue a budget stall on the final package. A compromise can't be called a compromise unless something actually moves.
Dayton's decision caused the layoff of 22,000 "nonessential" state employees and interrupted the work of thousands of others. But the governor had his chef and housekeeper/server deemed essential state employees during the shutdown. This is neither responsible nor rational leadership.
At least the chef and housekeeper actually do some work. Meanwhile we have over 120 legislators getting paid to sit on their hands. And legislative staff whose sole purpose is to denigrate statements from the governor's office. At least Governor Dayton cares about those 22,000 employees... he wants them back. Meanwhile GOP leadership wants to make sure that at least 15% of them never come back.
We know what's at stake. Dayton's shutdown closed state parks, stopped new road construction projects, closed license renewals for teachers and medical professionals, suspended inspections in hospitals and nursing homes, and closed domestic abuse and women's and children's shelters, among many other critical services.
All of these services were funded and would be open under the Republican budget.
Do you really know what is at stake? Do you? Yes, these listed items are shut down. And a lights on bill would put them back to work - temporarily. But the uncertainty would linger. Their jobs would be in limbo. Their lives on hold. And the GOP would continue to do what they have done all session...obstruct. This must be fixed, Minnesota needs to be fully open, and its employees back to work. That's what is really at stake.
Minnesotans understand that state spending is growing at an unsustainable rate. A recent KSTP/Survey USA poll showed that 87 percent of Minnesotans support government spending the same or less. Only eight percent supported Dayton's plan for increased government spending.
And a different poll shows that 60+ per cent of Minnesotans want this budget deficit solved with a balanced approach of both cuts and revenue. Funny how Minnesota's GOP only latches onto polls that look like they support their position. But let us examine the only "poll number" that really matters. Under Governor Dayton's plan 99.7% of Minnesotans will receive no tax increase, but every single Minnesotan would still be able to get full government services with less draconian cuts than the GOP budget would require. That is what matters.
Senator Koch, let's stop the distorted rhetoric and get down to some real budget compromise....real compromise that deals with real numbers and real people.
Can the rhetoric. Fix the budget now.