The DFL’s leadership in the Minnesota House and Senate have failed to produce any meaningful reforms that would protect the taxpayers’ wallets from an ever-growing government. It’s time that we demanded an explanation for the DFL’s inaction. That’s why I’m drafting a letter to Speaker Kelliher and Senate Majority Leader Pogemiller. If anyone is interested in signing onto the letter, leave a comment to this post. Here’s the text of my letter:

Speaker Kelliher and Senator Pogemiller,

We’ve known since last April that Minnesota would be facing a major budget deficit for the 2010-2011 biennium. We knew that because you voted to pass legislation that eliminated a $900,000,000 budget deficit for the current biennium. When the November forecast was announced, Gov. Pawlenty used his unallotment powers to eliminate another deficit for this biennium. This time, the deficit for this biennium was over $420,000,000.

Recently, it’s come to the public’s attention that DFL members of the legislature were paid a substantial amount of per diem for out-of-session hearings and meetings.

On the Senate side, the top 16 DFL legislators were paid a grand total of $99,648 for out-of-session hearings and meetings. With senators getting paid $96 per day in per diem, that’s a total of 1,038 days of out-of-session per diem paid.

On the House side, the 14 biggest amounts of out-of-session per diem were paid to DFL representatives. The total amount of out-of-session per diem paid to these representatives is $65,142. Dividing the $65,142 by the $77 per day per diem payment gives you a total of 846 days of out-of-session hearings and meetings.

There are several reasons why I’m highlighting these per diem payments, the most important of which is to ask these questions:

  • What work product did these DFL legislators produce during these hearings and meetings?
  • Did the DFL give a high priority to gathering important budgetary information during these meetings?
  • Did the DFL give a high priority to finding solutions to the budget deficit the highest priority of these hearings? If the DFL didn’t put a high priority on that, why didn’t they?
  • Did the DFL give a high priority to identifying spending that was spent on wants, not needs? If the DFL didn’t put a high priority on that, why didn’t they?
  • Did the DFL put a high priority on finding ways to save money without reducing service levels? If the DFL didn’t put a high priority on that, why didn’t they?
  • How many hours did these legislators work, on average, each of these 1,884 work days? Less than 4 hours on average? Was it 4-8 hours? Was it more than 8 hours a day?

The reason why your answers to these questions are so important to me is to know that the legislature is doing its fair share of work in finding solutions to Minnesota’s budget deficit. If you aren’t part of the solution, then you’re really just putting up an unneeded, and unwanted, roadblock in the solution process.

If you aren’t part of the solution, then you all but mathematically insignificant to the process. With Minnesota facing a possible $7,000,000,000 deficit for the 2010-2011 biennium, Minnesota’s taxpayers can’t afford to have legislators be innocent bystanders. Minnesota’s taxpayers need DFL legislators to be part of the solution process.

There’s another set of questions that demand answers. These questions ask the DFL leaderhisp if they’ve voted against GOP-submitted solutions. (As you know, that’s a rhetorical question.)

Why did the House and Senate vote against reducing the stamp allowance for each legislator from 5,500 stamps per legislator per year to 3,500 stamps per legislator per year? Had the Senate passed the measure, that would have saved Minnesota’s taxpayers $56,280 per year. Had the House passed that reduction, they would have saved saved Minnesota’s taxpayers $112,560 per year. Together, these measures would have saved Minnesota’s taxpayers a grand total of $168,840 per year or $337,680 for this biennium.

While saving $337,680 falls short of balancing the budget by itself, it’s still a significant step. It’s especially important considering the fact that there isn’t a single silver bullet solution to this deficit. Each time we find savings to these type of things, it reduces the need for painful cuts to important services.

Shouldn’t DFL legislators put a high priority on finding budget savings of this size? Wouldn’t that make the difficult decisions less painful?

Another question I have is whether the DFL majority will join Republicans in cutting their own pay and the pay of Minnesota’s constitutional officers. Senator Pogemiller said he was disappointed that Gov. Pawlenty didn’t speak enough about shared sacrifices during his State of the State Address. Isn’t this the perfect opportunity for Senator Pogemiller to prove he’s serious about sharing in the sacrifices that all Minnesotans are making during these difficult economic times?

An excellent first step in proving that you’re willing to share in the sacrifices that all Minnesotans are making would be to return the per diem you were paid for this summer’s and this fall’s meetings. After all, we haven’t seen proof that anything constructive got accomplished during those meetings.

The Star Tribune’s Mark Brunswick reported that the DFL is “pinning much of their hope for short-term relief on a national stimulus package coming out of Washington.” I don’t doubt but that that’s true. My question is why the House would reject Rep. Drazkowski’s amendment to HF886. Rep. Drazkowski’s amendment would have prohibited “Minnesota from accepting federal funds under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act if acceptance creates an ongoing spending obligation to the state.”

Is it the DFL majority’s intention to increase Minnesota’s dependence on one time federal monies? Is it the DFL majority’s intention to continually increase the overall size of government?

If it isn’t the DFL majority’s intention to continually increase the overall size of government, what proof can you provide that shows you are serious about putting taxpayers and job creators first?

Hasn’t the DFL majority really provided abundant proof that their highest priority is to increasing taxes and the government’s burden on Minnesota’s taxpayers?

Senator Pogemiller and Speaker Kelliher, I look forward to your reply. When I receive it, I will immediately publish it without editing. Please send your response to me at gmg425 at charter dot net.

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6 Responses to “An Open Letter to Speaker Kelliher and Sen. Pogemiller”

  • kyle carlson says:

    When can we make political careers paid by the hour? Punch a clock when your job starts and ends. Anybody in a political slot doesn’t have to show anything to the public as far as accomplishments, what a crock! This is why we eliminated Dean Johnson out here in kandiyohi co.

  • walter hanson says:

    Gary:

    It’s a nice long letter, but I can think of a few good questions.

    * It’s estitmated that the stimlus package might give the state three billion even less with some others. How are you plugging the rest of the gap.

    * If Tim’s budget is so wrong and misguided why haven’t you produced the budget that is right and defends your priorties. I think the reason why you haven’t is your budget will be considered even worse.

    * For people to spend responsibily they have to create a budget and live with in it. Why won’t you write a budget an act which millions of Minnesotans already do.

    What do you think?

    Walter Hanson
    Minneapolis, MN

  • Dennis says:

    According to my representative, Tim Kelly, all the DFL got from their recent rock-N-roll tour was “nothing more than group after group suggesting that we cannot cut their programs” with “little, if any, solutions.” Which is what the DFL solicited them to come to their meetings to say. The DFL’s tour was another example of their wasting additional tax dollars to get nothing. Now the DFL can come back with, see, we’re right, the public wants more tax and spend. I thought we elected these people to lead. Instead we get from them, what do we do?, what do we do? They’re just cowards.

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