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

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Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Some say you have to spend money to make money. In Minnesota’s case, some of our leaders believe you need to keep borrowing money before our state will finally find economic prosperity. Think about the absurdity of that statement. If we keep borrowing money we don’t have and spending it, we can “stimulate” our economy through job creation! How many times have we heard this nonsense at the state and federal level? And at what point are taxpayers and media members going to stop believing it? Governor Dayton has already trotted out his plan to help cure Minnesota’s economic ills. You guessed it: A bonding bill. Dayton wants to borrow another $1 billion to fund construction projects across Minnesota. Never mind the fact that bonding bills are supposed to happen in even-numbered years, or that we’ve had bonding bills in five of the last six years, or that we already have this pesky $6.2 billion deficit to overcome. But wait, you might say. These projects are “shovel ready” and are desperately needed! They’ll put 28,000 people to work! Let’s analyze these falsehoods. Every time a Democrat explains the need for a mammoth borrowing bill – or “jobs” bill as they call it – some random and improvable job creation number is thrown at the press and is inevitably reported as fact. Once the bill becomes law, no one ever investigates to see if that figure was close to accurate. The 2008 bonding bill promised to create more than 10,000 jobs. The 2009 version would create thousands more. In 2010, we were guaranteed 21,000 new jobs. We were also promised 33,000 jobs a year over five years by passing the 2008 gas tax increase bill and another 30,000 with the federal stimulus package. That would be a minimum of 160,000 new jobs promised with these proposals. And how’s Minnesota’s economy doing? We’re only facing the worst budget deficit the state has ever seen. If these job creation guarantees were even close to accurate, we would not be $6.2 billion in the hole. Is a bonding bill truly needed at this time? The reality is we haven’t spent the money from prior versions. Right now, $1.1 billion is waiting to be spent on previously approved construction proposals that were “shovel ready.” We can’t even begin work on these projects, and the Governor wants to borrow another $1 billion? Finally, there is the issue of debt service. This is the first biennium that we are going spend $1 billion in order to pay off our existing debt. Why would we want to increase our budget deficit by borrowing more money? To be fair, both parties can share the blame for this current bonding mess. In the past, Republicans and Democrats both agreed to raise the state’s 3% bonding limit under the fake notion that a Minnesota stimulus was going to bring the economy back. We all know how that turned out. At some point, when you’ve dug yourself into a hole, you have to stop digging, and I’m hopeful lawmakers on both sides of the aisle will finally realize it’s time for some fiscal discipline. Minnesota is broke. We don’t have the money to pay for all the things we are supposed to pay for, and the real statistics prove now is not the time to borrow more and spend more. We need to forget about a bonding bill until next year. Any bonding bill should address items in need of repair, roads, wastewater treatment facilities, and, if it occurs, disaster relief. In our current economic state, we should not be looking to build new trails and expand civic centers, which the Governor’s bill proposes. The people are tired of stimulus plans. They are tired of bailouts. They are tired of government choosing winners and losers. At some point, common sense has to kick in. If the credit card is maxed out and you can barely make the minimum payment, you quit spending. We need to say no to another bonding bill.
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