For the 2011 Minnesota legislative session the GOP has the majority and gets to set the agenda and the DFL responds–they only disagree on about 6 Billion dollars or so.
The GOP is setting the agenda, and Senator Amy Koch says it’s these three priorities : Create a business friendly climate and stimulate private sector jobs in the state of Minnesota, make the government live within its means, and make government more efficient and cost effective.
That sounds well, and Senator Koch and Speaker Kurt Zellers point to early meetings with the Dayton administration that indicate possible agreement on business deregulation and streamlined permitting. “You’ll see that in our first pieces of legislation.”–Senator Koch.
Mary Lahammer asks : “If there’s not a 6 Billion dollar shortfall, is there a different number the legislature is going to work off of?”
Senator Geoff Michel : “We have roughly 5% new growth coming in new revenue to the state. That’s the number, when we talk about living within our means, that’s the number we’re going to hit.” “We’ll have an additional 1.5 Billion dollars projected growth in the next biennium.”
I ask, “Would you look for any new revenue possibly through gambling?”
And Senator Koch responds : “We’re really focused right now on the spending side of the equation and so from our perspective that’s what we need to get under control, we’re making promises we can’t keep, we’re spending beyond our existing budget and so that’s going to be our focus.”
No new revenue, just cuts to balance the budget, and the GOP number is 5% greater revenue, and 1.5 Billion new dollars.
Right after the GOP laid out their agenda, Representative Paul Thissen and Senator Scott Dibble responded. They see a different number; they see a 6.2 billion dollar deficit.
Senator Dibble says, “So it’s not going to be simply a question of whether we need new revenue, and this talk of an “all cuts budget” is merely a fiction, we know even under Tim Pawlenty over the last eight years millions and millions and millions of dollars of new revenue was generated, but it was generated on the backs of working people and it was generated in the form of property taxes and increased tuition and increased fees of all sorts.” “In fact Tim Pawlenty’s budget increased burdens on 95% of Minnesotans and who benefited and who has less of a burden today–the top 5%.”
“Do you look for any new revenue anywhere?”–I ask.
“That’s clearly be a part of what we do…”, Senator Dibble.
“What our position now in the legislature is, is though is to put the Republicans to the test and see if they can put a budget together that does it without any revenues, that’s an all cuts budget but does protect their priorities that they’ve stated about school kids and about older Minnesotans and about people with disabilities, that also creates the climate where we can actually grow as an economy, investments in roads and all those things that add up to that. And if they can do that, well then that changes the discussion, I don’t think they can.” Represtentative Paul Thissen.
Lahammer asks, what number is the public to believe?
Thissen responds “The reality is there is a 6.2 billion dollar deficit–a hole that we have to fill.”
Don Davis asks : “Is there any place to compromise, The Republicans as they said, refuse to go with any tax increases and then if Dayton insists on a tax increase, is there any opportunity for compromise–do we do a special session and a government shut down?”
“The opportunity to compromise, is going to come from the people of Minnesota, and they’re going to have before them a Republican budget that is going to inflict a lot of pain, if they in fact can pass an all cuts budget it’s going to inflict a lot of pain on middle class families. And all the specifics we talked about, like cuts to schools, cuts to nursing homes, and hospitals, and all those things. When the people of Minnesota see that, they’re going to either say that’s consistent with our values, or that’s not protecting our priorities, and legislators are going to hear that. And so the ultimate budget solution, because we are facing a budget crisis and an economic crisis is going to come from the people of Minnesota, and we’ll be listening very carefully to them.”–Representative Thissen