I’ve been tracking the budget debate happening in the House all week and will continue to track it through the close of the session. Tonight, Rep. Steve Gottwalt responded to Speaker Kelliher’s quote earlier today. First, here’s Speaker Kelliher’s quote:

“If we’re going to protect and not close community hospitals all around the state, we need to override the veto,” said Kelliher, who did not directly answer whether DFL House member had enough votes to succeed. “We need to work together now as a Legislature to come together and override the governor’s veto,” she said.

I’ve said before what I’ll say again: Speaker Kelliher isn’t being realistic in talking about overriding Gov. Pawlenty’s veto of the DFL’s Tax Increase Bill. They can’t even flip Rep. Gene Pelowski, DFL-Winona. There’s no way that Republicans are going to jump ship. Here’s Rep. Gottwalt’s statement in reaction to Speaker Kelliher’s quote earlier in the day:

Speaker Kelliher’s comments simply underscore the only game plan the DFL has brought all session: The false choice between massive tax increases, and deep cuts to essential programs and services. She and her cohorts are trying to scare Minnesotans into falling for huge tax increases! They have ignored and disregarded the third option of setting good priorities, making reasonable cuts, and using real reforms to do a better job while saving the state money, living within our means instead of raising taxes.

Republicans have offered numerous proposals that would save Minnesota more than $5 billion without raising taxes and without cutting hospitals, nursing homes and long term care providers.

Speaker Kelliher is whistling in the graveyard and living in a dream when she urges a veto override: The GOP caucus is standing firmly with Minnesotans who are refusing to fall for the same old tax-and-spend!

She and her caucus are hopelessly out-of-touch, demonstrating the DFL’s bankruptcy on real reforms and sustainable solutions. No leadership, misplaced priorities, no reforms, continued growth of state government, and major tax increases. If there is a special session, the blame lies squarely on Kelliher’s shoulders and those of Sen. Pogemiller. They have given every Minnesotan reason to return to a common sense conservative majority!

Speaker Kelliher and Leader Pogemiller have complained about Gov. Pawlenty’s inflexibility on not raising taxes. They won’t get away with that on this blog. The DFL leadership has fought the GOP’s reform agenda. They’ve insisted that they won’t do things differently.

The highlight of the DFL’s inflexibility was on full display during their Cherrypicked Testimony Tour. I recall watching Janelle Kendall outline a list of reforms for the legal system, then seeing the representative for Great River Regional Library tell the legislators assembled to have the courage to raise taxes so they wouldn’t have to reduce their services. It didn’t dawn on GRRL’s representative that the public might be able to survive that cutback.

Another bit of proof of the DFL’s inflexibility came from Tarryl Clark’s teling Tom Hauser that the legislature couldn’t find more than $500,000,000 of savings. HINT: You can’t find what you refuse to look for.

The DFL legislature had tons of time last summer when they held scores of hearngs and collected tens of thousands of dollars of per diem for their out-of-session work. As I wrote in my editorial in this morning’s Times, “Had these hearings produced cost savings, that per diem would’ve been money well spent. Had those hearings been used to come up with a solid list of priorities, that per diem would’ve been money well spent.”

Based on the DFL’s insistence on doing the same old, same old, it’s obvious that the money was wasted. They could’ve skipped last summer’s hearings and the first month of this session and wound up with the things that they’re passing, and Gov. Pawlenty is vetoing, this week.

Rep. Gottwalt is spot on in saying that the DFL has voted down the GOP’s reforms literally from Day One of the session. They’ve voted down these measures without thinking twice about the benefits Minnesota’s taxpayers would reap from the GOP’s reforms. Rep. Gottwalt is also spot on with his statement that the DFL has “given every Minnesotan reason to return to a common sense conservative majority!”

If you want ‘more of the same’ policies, the DFL is the right vote for you. If, however, you insist on thoughtful policies that fix our biggest problems and address our highest priority issues, then there’s only one vote that’s justifiable. That’s a vote that returns the GOP to majority status in the House and Senate and keeps Gov. Pawlenty in the Governor’s mansion.

UPDATE: Andy’s post is worthwhile reading. If the DFL truly has tabled their plans to override Gov. Pawlenty’s veto, then it’s certain that enough of their members have told the leadership that they won’t vote to raise taxes.

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