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Minnesota Legislature

Legislative News and Views - Rep. Steve Drazkowski (R)

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TAXPAYERS PROTECTED BY BUDGET COMPROMISE

Monday, May 17, 2010
The big news from the State Capitol is that Minnesota’s $3 billion budget deficit has been eliminated, and state taxpayers have been protected in the process. Lawmakers were actually called into a brief special session on May 17 to pass the compromise agreement, which was reached between legislative leaders and Governor Pawlenty about an hour before the 2010 Legislative Session was required to adjourn. No one was excited about dealing with another budget deficit this year, and I’m not horribly excited about how we eliminate the shortfall, but with time running out it was the best deal Democrats and Governor Pawlenty could come up with. The final budget reduction agreement includes legislative ratification of many of Governor Pawlenty’s 2009 budget unallotments, and a K-12 education payment shift. There will also be an option for the current or next governor to opt Minnesota in to the Obamacare federal health program. The final agreement did not include a tax increase proposal, though the liberals forced a vote on a $400 million income tax hike plan just days prior to adjournment. This ‘tax the rich’ scheme would have negatively impacted most small business owners and farmers, forcing them to pay more to their state government when state spending is already out of control. Thankfully, Governor Pawlenty vetoed this proposal, and along with House Republicans encouraged the legislative majority to tackle this problem without increasing taxes on Minnesotans who are already struggling to make ends meet in this troublesome economy. Though the 2010 budget is balanced, more problems lie ahead. Lawmakers can now expect a $5.6 billion budget shortfall when they return to the State Capitol in January, because Democrats refused to adopt any of the Republican proposals to substantially reform government and government spending this session. Fiscal responsibility means you stop spending when you’re going broke, and though we’ve prevented a California-like bankruptcy situation in Minnesota with this latest budget agreement, the legislature will be back to the drawing board again next year trying to solve our continued economic woes.