The 2011 legislative session is drawing to a close and I am proud to say we did the heavy lifting Minnesotans asked us to do.
We have brought forward significant reform to cut wasteful government spending. We also are handing Gov. Dayton our finalized budget plan, erasing a historic $5 billion budget shortfall without tax increases.
Now it will be up to the governor to decide whether the Legislature adjourns on May 23 as scheduled, or if an ever-unpopular special session is necessary. It really disappoints me when the governor uses the media to “negotiate,” demanding the Legislature compromise with him … we already have!
The House began the 2011 session with the mind-set that we would keep our spending level flat from the current biennium to the next. That would be $30.2 billion, or $32.5 billion if you count the one-time federal stimulus money we received.
Then we received an updated economic forecast in February which showed Minnesota’s revenue will increase to $34 billion in the upcoming biennium. Many of us gritted our teeth and accepted a bump in spending to that level because it still falls within our revenue projection. That was a compromise.
Meantime, the governor proposed raising taxes by the billions to cover $37 billion in spending. He is still hung up on spending $37 billion – even though the forecast is $34 billion – and keeps saying the Legislature needs compromise. Again, we already moved and it is Dayton’s turn to adjust his spending total.
We must not allow ourselves to be fooled into thinking Dayton’s "tax the rich" approach means we can just have someone else pay for extra spending; that is not how things work. Extra costs would be handed down to consumers, or our business owners may elect to set up shop in another state. That would reduce the revenue captured by the governor’s plan, leaving you, me and our neighbors left to foot the bill for extra spending.
The budget discussion should not hinge on what our business owners can afford. We should be focusing on how much state spending is appropriate. Families and businesses in our state continue to make ends meet on flat or reduced income during this recession and our government surely can survive on the 9-percent increase the House proposes.
Now we just need the governor to see the logic and do what Minnesotans want by approving our bills.
All my best to you and your families,