Last week’s legislative highlight was watching the DFL infighting on tax increases. It’s gotten so bad that two of the DFL’s chairmen, Sen. Tom Bakk AND Rep. Gene Pelowski, have made Ann Lenczewski their punching bag on taxes. In fact, the DFL’s conference committee hearings (there’s only 1 Republican on the conference committee) failed to reach consensus on the DFL’s Tax Increase Bill.
As a result of the DFL’s infighting, they were forced to take the step of rewriting the Tax Increase Bill from scratch, passing it through the House and Senate, then have Gov. Pawlenty veto it before he headed out for the Annual Governor’s Walleye Opener on White Bear Lake.
What’s worse is that the DFL hasn’t shown any inclination towards finding cost savings. There’s no denying that they’ve figured out cuts but that’s a different story. Cutting budgets just means that you’re cutting spending and services. Finding cost savings means that you’re cutting spending but keeping service levels the same. Another word for finding cost savings is reforms.
The DFL’s mindset is illustrated perfectly by Speaker Kelliher:
She said the Governor’s inflexibility on the tax issue was out of step with reality. “We’re cutting spending more deeply than the Governor is but it’s still isn’t enough,” Kelliher explained, “If Governor Pawlenty does not want to become known as the permanent deficit governor we need to have ongoing revenue in this budget.”
Speaker Kelliher, I’ll repeat the questions I asked you and Sen. Pogemiller in February:
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? If the DFL didn’t put a high priority on that, why didn’t they?
We know from the governor’s log that only 9 bills were signed in the first four months of the session. That’s a tiny amount of legislation becoming law considering all the out-of-session per diem that was paid.
This Strib article says everything that needs to be said about how the DFL is putting these omnibus bills together:
Faced with a certain veto of their major tax bills and little agreement among themselves, House and Senate DFL leaders took opponents by surprise on Thursday evening with a brand-new bill that may raise $1 billion from a combination of taxes on cigarettes, alcohol and lofty incomes.
No one knows for sure how much the bill would raise or where it would come from, because the bill itself had only blank spaces where the numbers should go. “I’ve never seen anything like this,” marveled House Minority Leader Marty Seifert, moments after the bill passed the Senate. “It has all blanks in it.”
This isn’t leadership. It’s essentially the state level equivalent of what the US House and Senate did in passing the stimulus bill. That bill hid the details. This bill hid the details during debate, too.
What’s worse is that the DFL hasn’t corrected the mistake they created in 2008 on the Green Acres program. That, too, was created by writing legislation in the dark of night in the waning hours of the session. Sounds familiar, doesn’ it?
That’s what happens when the legislature is led by people who are more interested in winning political victories than in doing what’s right.