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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Michael Nelson (DFL)

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THE GOP BUDGET: MIDDLE-CLASS JOB CUTS AND PHONY MONEY

Monday, April 11, 2011
At about 3 AM on April 7, the House of Representatives passed the Health and Human Services Omnibus Finance bill, the last of the Republican budget bills. With all of the Republican bills through first passage, we now have a more complete picture of their budget, and it isn’t pretty. The GOP Tax bill eliminates the Market Homestead Credit, cuts the Renter’s Credit, and phases out local government aids. All of these will combine to raise property taxes across the state by $1.3 billion. Property tax hurt those on fixed incomes and the middle class the hardest, and is the greatest tax that our businesses pay. Governor Dayton’s budget fully funds local government aid and includes the credits, holding the line on property taxes. In their State Government Finance bill, the GOP wants to cut 5,000 state workers — 15 percent of the workforce — circumvent collective bargaining, and include $170 million in supposed savings that can’t be accounted for. Non-partisan analysis from state agencies — analysis that has always been the benchmark for discussions on the fiscal impact of bills — showed the Republicans overstating savings by millions of dollars, and in one case, claiming to save $133 million when the fiscal analysis showed it would save $0. Governor Dayton’s budget reduces the workforce by a smaller amount and in a more intelligent fashion, while continuing the funding that implements smart reforms to give taxpayers a better bang for their buck. Republicans have continually claimed that one way to help private business is to streamline the permitting and licensing process to allow business to expand at a faster rate. DFLers don’t disagree. But these cuts to the state workforce would be counterproductive. If you want public agencies to work faster and do more, why make devastating cuts to the state workforce? This will undo the smart changes made by Governor Dayton, and will only make it more difficult for businesses to expand, complete their work and create jobs. It just doesn’t make sense. The GOP Health and Human Services bill dramatically cuts funding for our nursing homes, and the disabled and vulnerable, while claiming $300 million in savings that won’t materialize. Then when those savings don’t materialize, Republicans force agency commissioners to find additional cuts to make up the difference. The bill also cuts funding to health care providers. These cuts will result in the loss of 20,000 private sector, middle-class jobs. The GOP bill also tries to repeal the expansion of Medical Assistance, which would throw 95,000 lower-income Minnesotans off their health care. Governor Dayton makes minimal cuts, protects our seniors, disabled and lower-income folks while continuing the reforms that have made Minnesota’s health care the best in the world. Overall the Republican budget would result in 30,000 job losses and contains a billion dollars in phony money, $1.3 billion in property tax hikes, $1.4 billion in shifts, and raids $132 million in funding dedicated for other purposes. All of this is happening while our economy is still struggling to recover and create jobs. Their claims of a complete and balanced budget are simply untrue, and even more importantly, our wallets and our economy can’t afford it. Governor Dayton’s budget saves and creates jobs, protects seniors, students, the vulnerable, and the disabled. Governor Dayton’s budget puts Minnesota back on a path to prosperity. The difference could not be clearer. As always, please feel free to send me your suggestions, questions, comments or concerns. You can reach me by phone at (651) 296-3751, by email at rep.michael.nelson@house.mn, or by sending mail to my office: 229 State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Saint Paul, Minnesota 55155. Michael Nelson State Representative District 46A