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Minnesota Legislature

Legislative News and Views - Rep. Paul Torkelson (R)

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009
ST. PAUL – The 2009 Legislative Session has ended in St. Paul, and State Paul Torkelson (R-Watonwan County) said he was puzzled with the way it concluded – no compromise between Governor Pawlenty and the Democrat-led House and Senate. “It was actually a smart move by Governor Pawlenty and a setback to the legislative majority,” Torkelson said. “The message I’ve heard most often is that lawmakers should finish their work on time. With his action, the Governor has ensured we’ll get done on time and avoid a special session.” Last November, lawmakers were warned that Minnesota would face a multi-billion dollar budget deficit. In January, Governor Pawlenty said the $6.4 billion budget deficit should be eliminated without tax increases, and told the Legislature that approving bills with tax hikes would face a certain veto. Yet Torkelson said tax increases were the only solutions Democrats could come up with, proposing tax hikes on your income, consumer goods, alcohol, tobacco products, and many more. Torkelson believes the DFL-controlled House and Senate wanted to push the problem into a special session, but Governor Pawlenty nixed that idea. He told the majority leadership that because they refused to compromise, and in essence failed to perform their legislative duty by not balancing the state’s budget, he would sign their bills that increased spending and then trim the budget on his own when needed. “It’s worth noting that there was partisan support and bipartisan opposition to Democrat tax increase proposals this session,” Torkelson noted. “But now that the 2009 session has ended, I look forward to meeting with constituents and hearing their thoughts as we prepare for 2010.”