Dear friends and neighbors,
Last Friday I sent out an email to constituents asking for input about how the budget should be resolved. Thus far, I have received nearly unanimous support (about 96%, out of more than two hundred responses) for a balanced approach of cuts and new revenue from the wealthiest 2% of Minnesotans. It’s important to note these responses came from Democrats, Republicans, Independents, and people who have no particular political affiliation. Minnesotans get it. Resolving this budget crisis is going to require both cuts and new revenue. Seemingly the only people that don’t get it are the Republican legislators in Saint Paul who are willing to shut down state government to protect the wealthiest 2% of Minnesotans from paying one penny more in taxes. To illustrate this extremist position, and I’m not making this up, there was a “Not A Penny More”caucus in the House of Representatives comprised of more than twenty Republican members who would not accept/compromise for even a penny more in taxes. To show their solidarity, they affixed pennies onto their jacket lapels or other upper-body clothing. Unbelievable.
What about the “6% increase in spending” the Republicans keep talking about. I don’t want to call anyone a liar, but that assertion is simply not true. The 2010-2011 biennial budget, which we are operating under currently, was $34.337 billion. (This number includes the federal stimulus money and the K-12 education shift. Those details are often conveniently forgotten, but those dollars were appropriated just like every other dollar.) The budget for 2012-2013 passed by the Republican majorities is $34 billion. The last time I checked, $34.337 billion was greater than $34 billion. So logic would dictate, that passing a $34 billion budget is not a 6% increase; actually, it’s no increase at all, which is a cut. Furthermore, the Republican budget has no means to repay the $1.9 billion K-12 education shift (which was supposed to be paid back in the 2012-2013 biennium) and if there is no means to repay the shift, it is a cut.
Republican legislators are currently in a bind. To appease their base: Â the fringe-right and the Tea Party they need to say they cut government and they refused to compromise with Governor Dayton. To appease typical Minnesotans, they need to make up numbers like their budget is a “6% increase in spending.” When the party that passes the budget must call their proposal both a cut and an increase depending on the audience and a refusal to compromise is valued above all else, should anyone be surprised that a government shutdown is looming?
As always, I do appreciate hearing from you. Please contact me with your thoughts, comments, suggestions, and questions by phone at 651-296-4228 or email at email@example.com.