By Rep. Joe McDonald
I spent much of Thursday meeting in St. Paul and stayed at the Capitol until nearly midnight working to avoid a state shutdown. The governor promised he would not force a state shutdown to continue pushing for tax increases.
Unfortunately, the governor did not agree to any of the compromises we offered. He even denied a "lights-on" proposal we sent him to keep our state operating for 10 days while work continues on a full budget. He called our lights-on bill a stunt, which is simply untrue. We were all there to pass a lights-on bill before midnight to avoid a shutdown. But the governor never called a special session so we could act and now a shutdown is taking place.
And for what? Because our governor is so bent on raising taxes to outspend our projected revenue by $1.8 billion that he went back on his word and shut down our state. A recent KSTP/Survey USA poll (http://kstp.com/news/stories/s2165061.shtml) indicates only 8 percent of Minnesotans support spending to Dayton’s level. An overwhelming 87 percent favor our plan of either reducing spending or keeping it about where it is. Minnesotans clearly understand the Legislature’s compromise from $32 billion to a $34 billion budget proposal is enough to support our priorities without raising our taxes.
We have offered significant compromise to the governor, including fully matching his K-12 education funding and conceding the tax reductions we proposed. He has called our proposals “non-offers” and has not responded with counteroffers of his own. The St. Paul Pioneer Press editorial staff recently noted Dayton's unwillingness to compromise:
“The governor is threatening to unnecessarily shut down portions of government to have his way on other, more contentious budget matters. We understand his desire to bring the greatest possible pressure to bear on the Legislature in support of his promise to raise taxes on higher incomes. Politics ain’t beanbag. But the unnecessary infliction of pain is not consistent with an attitude of compromise.”
The governor claims his plan would only tax the top 2 percent of income earners. That makes it an easy sell, creating class warfare by pitting 98 percent of our state’s citizens against our top earners. But the truth is we all would end up paying more one way or another and the governor’s own Dept. of Revenue agency agrees. A report from that agency indicates the governor’s proposed tax increases would be passed along to us in the form of lower wages for workers and higher prices on the things we all buy. You can read that report here: http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/comm/docs/HF1231%28sf0925%29_Incidence_Analysis_1.pdf.
Now it is back to the drawing board to stop this shutdown as soon as possible. I appreciate all the input I have received from local citizens throughout the session and in recent weeks. It also may be helpful for you to let the governor know how you feel. You can call him at (651) 201-3400 or by emailing http://mn.gov/governor/contact-us/form.