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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen (R)

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Shutdown is fully avoidable

Friday, June 17, 2011
By Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen The Legislature continues to offer compromise and the governor continues to remain disengaged from negotiations as we creep closer to a July 1 state shutdown. This state shutdown is 100-percent avoidable, but only if the governor changes his course and shows greater interest in finding a solution. We have made two significant compromises in the last two weeks alone, but he has turned his nose up at them. The latest compromises we offered eliminates our request for tax cuts and relief in exchange for Gov. Dayton to drop his request for a tax increase. It also includes funding increases for higher education, the environment, transportation and local government aid, plus aid for flood and disaster relief. This is a significant compromise that recognizes the value of efficient and effective services and does not increase the tax burden on working Minnesotans and job providers. It shows we remain fully committed to passing a fiscally responsible budget that does not burden taxpayers and prevents a costly and unnecessary government shutdown. The $34 billion budget we propose would be the largest in state history, increases spending by 6 percent and funds our priorities. But it also stays within our projected revenue. What our proposal does NOT include is tax increases. State governments across the country are holding the line on taxes and spending. We must do the same if Minnesota is going to compete for jobs and grow our economy. Florida’s budget spends $1 billion less than last year and $4 billion less than 2006. New York closed its $10 billion deficit with $9.3 billion in spending reductions. Arizona did away with a $1.5 billion shortfall with $1.1 billion in net spending reductions — and no new taxes. Apparently Dayton feels so strongly about flying in the face of economic reality by outspending our means and increasing taxes he is willing to continue denying our responsible offers and force a state shutdown. His P.R. machine is now creating chaos, fear and concern in an attempt to strong-arm legislators into supporting job-killing tax increases. Instead of focusing on finding a budget solution, the governor has been busy putting together a state shutdown plan. I question his priorities in what the governor deems "essential" and wants to continue funding even during a shutdown. His list of essentials includes Giant's Ridge resort, a center for the arts and a tree nursery. Left off the governor's list of essential services: the state would stop Medicaid payments to nursing homes, funding to K-12 schools would stop (delete) and state-funded road construction projects would cease, except for emergency repairs. Half of the 300 state employees of the Department of Military Affairs would be laid off and state parks would close to the public. Before he was elected, the governor said to KSTP's Tom Hauser in debate that he would not shut down government over a tax increase. Now it appears the governor is concentrating more on a plan to shut government down inflicting as much pain as possible on Minnesotans than negotiating in good faith with the Legislature. One lobbyist said: “The intent appears to be to have an immediate, strong impact of the shutdown to create the greatest possible pain and resulting pressure on the Legislature to resolve the dispute.” Click here to see full text. I remain optimistic we can find an 11th-hour solution to put a budget in place but, again, the governor needs to show some leadership by getting off the couch and joining the Legislature in the negotiating process. I encourage you to call the governor at 800-657-3717 and ask him to join the Legislature in offering compromise.
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