To the Editor:
Facing a record $6.4 billion budget shortfall this session, we made priority-based budget cuts, eliminated programs that didn’t work, and cut excessive spending. We protected students first, minimized cuts to hospitals and nursing homes, and stemmed deeper job losses.
The governor and legislature agreed on 5/6 of the solution: $2 billion in cuts, $1.8 billion in federal funds, and $1.8 billion in delayed school payments. We agreed new revenue was needed to fill the remaining $1 billion gap and avoid further damaging cuts. We disagreed on how to raise that revenue.
Governor Pawlenty planned to borrow $1 billion: a plan that would rack up $800 million in interest and take 20 years to pay off. The House voted down that measure 130-2 because borrowing our way out of a deficit isn’t fiscally responsible.
We supported a pay-as-you go plan to raise $1 billion dedicated exclusively to minimizing damage to our hospitals, schools, and nursing homes by:
• Tax on credit card companies charging excessive interest
• Moderate income tax increase for Minnesota’s highest earners ($250,000 and above)
• 3-5 cent alcohol tax increase (first in 22 years)
Unfortunately, Governor Pawlenty vetoed this compromise.
Instead the governor plans to make further damaging cuts by himself to hospitals, higher education, and other critical state services to balance the budget.
We are disappointed Governor Pawlenty was unwilling to work together, but we will continue making your concerns known to the governor to ensure this process meets the needs of our community and future.