Rep. Gene Pelowski broke with his DFL colleagues Thursday, criticizing Rep. Ann Lenczewski’s Tax Bill. This Winona Daily News article tells the story:
Rep. Gene Pelowski, DFL-Winona, condemned the DFL House tax proposal in particularly harsh terms Wednesday, calling it “dead on arrival” at the desk of Gov. Tim Pawlenty. The Minnesota House and Senate have different plans to balance the $4.6 billion state budget shortfall using tax increases, which DFL leaders say must happen in conjunction with spending cuts, to sustain vital services. A Pawlenty spokesman called the DFL Senate proposal an “extraordinary tax hike that will negatively impact everyone’s pocketbooks and kill jobs.”
The House proposal would generate $1.5 billion in 2010 and 2011 by hiking alcohol and tobacco taxes, removing certain deductions from the tax code and boosting income taxes on wealthy Minnesotans. The far-simpler Senate proposal would net $2.2 billion by increasing income taxes across-the-board on all taxpayers. Both bills may be voted on by the full House and Senate in the next week.
Pelowski said lawmakers won’t have enough votes to override a Pawlenty veto of a DFL tax plan, and said the proposals are a â€œfictionâ€ that will force lawmakers to scramble to craft another budget proposal after Pawlenty’s veto. “We have to do what is real and not go through an exercise of what-ifs,” Pelowski said. “There are no what-ifs. There is only the stark reality of this budget deficit.”
Rep. Pelowski’s condemnation indicates that the DFL won’t override Gov. Pawlenty’s promised veto. Pelowski’s criticism guarantees there won’t be any Republicans jumping ship. What incentive is there for Republicans to defect if DFL leadership is abandoning the bill? Rep. Pelowski deserves credit for dealing with reality.
Rep. Ann Lenczewski, DFL-Bloomington, says many lower- and middle-class Minnesotans will actually pay less in income taxes under her proposal. Lenczewski noted the governor supported increasing cigarette taxes Pawlenty called it a fee in 2005, and has allowed some cities and counties to adopt local taxes, another provision of her proposal. â€œThe House has fashioned its tax bill to figure out: What can the governor support?â€ Lenczewski said.
Here’s a compromise for Rep. Lenczewski: I’ll convince the House GOP it’s in their best interest to accept Rep. Lenczewski’s lower- and middle-class tax cuts. In return, Rep. Lenczewski needs to talk her DFL colleagues to agree to the GOP’s corporate tax cuts.
That way, both sides get a little of what they want. What could possibly go wrong?
Let’s get serious here. The DFL is wasting time with tax increases because they’re getting vetoed the instant they hit Gov. Pawlenty’s office. Rep. Pelowski is right in saying that the DFL should make more constructive use of their time. Time’s running out and the DFL plan, if that’s what it can be called, consists of across-the-board budget cuts, one-time stimulus money and oversized job-killing tax increases.
It’s time the House DFL got serious about solving the deficit problem and putting us on a path to prosperity. The DFL’s plan does neither, which is why it’s just a matter of time before it’s rejected for not being a serious plan. Rep. Pelowski almost sounds conservative in this statement:
Pelowski stopped short of saying he wouldn’t back any tax increases, but said he would do so only if an increase were supported by Pawlenty, who has vowed to hold the line on taxes. “Minnesotans should be presented with the best we can do with the resources we have,” Pelowski said.
That sounds alot like the language used by the Live Within Our Means legislators. It’d be a welcome sight to see more DFL defections from the House DFL’s job-killing tax increase bill. What the DFL should do, but likely won’t, is pick out ideas from this pdf document. If the ideas have merit, which I think they do, the health care reform ideas alone would eliminate most of the current budget deficit.
That’s what serious policymakers should be looking for. It isn’t coincidence that it’s the manual that the House GOP is operating from.
Steve Gottwalt sent me this email about 1:00 am this morning:
This evening, as we were ready to debate the Omnibus State Government Finance Bill, the House Democrats did one of those things most people back home never read or hear about — and which shows why we are still trying to balance our budget with less than a month to go.
They threw out a proposal to borrow a billion dollars on the taxpayers backs to cover for their lack of willingness to show leadership, and cut government spending. It would have placed billions more debt on the backs of Minnesotans on top of the all the federal deficit spending already heaped upon the next generation of Americans. This was a purely political amendment designed to score political points. They wasted two hours on the House floor playing politics when what we need is leadership! If this sounds partisan, I apologize, but it is the truth. We have been waiting for the Democrats in charge of the Legislature to work with us on real solutions, and instead they’re playing “gotcha” politics with time running out. If there is a special session, here is the reason. To say I’m disappointed would be an understatement.
By the way, I voted against the amendment. Our deficit is already too big, and we shouldn’t be making it bigger.
-Rep. Steve Gottwalt
There’s alot of of unseriousness running through the House DFL ‘leadership’ (Yes, I’m using the word leadership loosely.) I’ve said it before but it’s worth repeating: prioritize is the longest 4-letter word in the DFL’s dictionary. Instead of spending the first three months of the session identifying wasteful spending, most of which is directed to their political allies, the DFL waited until the last minute before springing their hair-brained ideas on the legislature.
Instead of playing gotcha politics, the DFL should get serious and start supplying serious solutions to the deficit problem. Frankly, we can’t afford having the DFL majorities being unserious partners in solving this problem.
UPDATE: Be sure to check out Andy’s post on the DFL’s political stunt.