By Rep. Joe McDonald
You need thick skin to serve at the Capitol, but I refuse to turn the other cheek when our governor uses a budget discussion to personally insult legislators.
He not only described us as “extreme,” but went on to say we “understand little about government and care even less.”
Let’s take a closer look at our state legislators. We are comprised of average and ordinary Minnesotans. We are teachers, farmers, insurance agents, moms and dads, businessmen and women, daycare providers, veterans, coaches, laborers and one photographer, just to name a few. Very ordinary, very Minnesotan!
Extreme, the governor calls us? I submit that the governor is extreme. Let’s take a look at the definition. Extreme: Of a character farthest removed from the ordinary or average.
Hmm, let’s see, yes, that’s Gov. Dayton, all right. After all, he is the one who wants to hand his reins of leadership to a budget mediator during this vitally important point in state. He also refused to allow his commissioners from meeting with legislative leaders to put a budget in place.
A group which recently rallied at the Capitol says the Legislature is protecting the richest 2 percent of Minnesotans by resisting Dayton’s proposed tax increases. They say we should tax the rich so the middle class can work.
Let's think about this. Say, for a moment, we do capitulate and let the governor get his tax hike of $1.8 billion. Then what? How’s that going to create jobs? History teaches us that cutting taxes for business and giving them incentives to reinvest is what really creates jobs. This is just the opposite of what the proponents of tax increases are saying.
Further perplexing, the governor doesn’t even seem to know where to put the extra revenue; he claims the Legislature can take care of it. We could put it in the Health and Human Services, although we already increased that budget by around $570 million for the next biennium.
How about education? Chairman Pat Garofalo and his committee already increased K-12 funding by $41 per pupil for an additional $465 million in the upcoming biennium. Local-road transportation also receives more than $100 million in additional funding through the budget we sent Gov. Dayton.
Contrary to what our friends across the aisle are saying, our proposal is not an-all cuts budget. The budget for 2010-2011 was $32 billion. The Republican budget for 2012-13 is $34 billion. That adds up to 6 percent more than the previous two years. That’s $2 BILLION MORE! If the state of can deliver services with $32 billion, then it’s absurd to say we cannot make ends meet with $34 billion.
The real outrage should be directed toward our projected 28-percent increase in spending for the next two years. This is what we should be rallying against and I firmly believe that is why Republicans took the majority in both the Minnesota House and Senate; people are sick and tired of the reckless and wasteful spending.
The $34 billion budget we propose is the largest budget in the state’s history and that still isn't enough for the governor. It’s time to take off the gloves and show him we are serious about bringing common sense to our budget practices to put Minnesota on a responsible fiscal path.
Rep. McDonald can be reached at the Capitol by calling 651-296-4336. He is also available by email at email@example.com. His office is located at 523 State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55155.