I just skimmed through Tarryl Clark’s latest e-update. In it, she made some misstatements that need correcting. Here’s the first misstatement needing correction:
It has been just over one month since the Governor announced he was ending negotiations and would go it alone on budget cuts.
It’s patently false to say that Gov. Pawlenty’s statement was the end of negotiating because negotiations took place throughout the weekend. Just because Tarryl didn’t like what she heard during those negotiations doesn’t mean that the negotiations didn’t happen. Rejecting his counterproposals isn’t proof that negotiations ended during Gov. Pawlenty’s press conference.
It’s obvious that the DFL leadership didn’t expect Gov. Pawlenty to be the adult who would do what Minnesota’s Constitution mandates. The DFL leadership didn’t expect Gov. Pawlenty to tell them that he was tired of the stunts that they were playing.
Let’s remember that the only balanced budget that the DFL put together and passed didn’t pass the legislature until there were only minutes left in the session. Let’s remember that Sen. Bakk’s tax increase bill still would’ve left Minnesota with a $500,000,000 deficit. Rep. Lenczewski’s tax increase bill would’ve left Minnesota with a $1,200,000,000 deficit. The initial conference committee report would’ve left Minnesota with a $1,700,000,000 deficit.
If the DFL wanted to be taken seriously, they should’ve put a serious proposal on the table before the clock was about to expire. If the DFL wanted to be taken seriously, the DFL shouldn’t have played for a special session and a government shutdown. The dirty little ‘secret’ is that they were hoping to force a special session in the hopes of forcing Gov. Pawlenty into accepting a massive tax increase.
What Gov. Pawlenty did with his press conference was that he put a shot across the DFL leadership’s bow by saying he was taking their negotiating gun out of their hands. He said that the DFL’s games were scuttled.
Here’s another interesting thing that Tarryl said:
Unallotment is meant to be a scalpel, not an ax and it is meant to be used at the end of the two-year budget cycle, not the beginning. It is for unanticipated budget shortfalls, not ones created by vetoes and a refusal to negotiate.
Again Tarryl plays the ‘Gov. Pawlenty refused to negotiate’ card. That’s a fabrication. That’s pure spin. It’s provably false because he made a counterproposal after the news conference that the DFL rejected. Tony Sertich characterized the counterproposal as not being a serious counteroffer.
Tarryl says that unallotment “is meant to be a scalpel” that shouldn’t be used except in the final year of the biennium. The statute doesn’t have language in it that would indicate that. Quite the contrary:
Subd. 4.Reduction.(a) If the commissioner determines that probable receipts for the general fund will be less than anticipated, and that the amount available for the remainder of the biennium will be less than needed, the commissioner shall, with the approval of the governor, and after consulting the Legislative Advisory Commission, reduce the amount in the budget reserve account as needed to balance expenditures with revenue.
I’m pretty certain that there isn’t anything in the unallotment provision that says it’s only supposed to be used at the end of the biennium. I’m pretty certain that the part that says it can be used if “the commissioner determines that probable receipts for the general fund will be less than anticipated.” It further states that the commmissioner can’t use this authority unless he’s received the governor’s approval or until he’s consulted with the Legislative Advisory Commission.
Commissioner Hanson got Gov. Pawlenty’s approval. Commissioner Hanson then consulted with the LAC last week. In fact, during that meeting, he and Sen. Pogemiller had a spirited exchange on Gov. Pawlenty’s deferred payments to K-12 education vs. the DFL’s deferred payments to K-12 education.
Here’s another bit of Tarryl’s spin that needs debunking:
And make no mistake the Governorâ€™s cuts will cost us jobs across the state, jobs in hospitals, nursing homes, schools, and colleges. Police and fire will be reduced and libraries and parks will not be spared. And in the end the cuts alone wonâ€™t be enough. This year for the first time Minnesotans will pay more in property taxes than income taxes. That is a direct result of this Governorâ€™s policies and the Governorâ€™s unilateral cuts will only make it worse.
Any city council or mayor that cuts public safety first shouldn’t hold their jobs beyond the next election. In fact, council members or mayors that start by cutting public safety budgets should be forced to resign ASAP because they’ve proven that they can’t make thoughtful decisions.
The DFL has made repeated efforts to say that Gov. Pawlenty’s unallotments will trigger immediate, dramatic increases in property taxes. Mayor Les Heitke and Mayor Dave Kleis are proof that setting the right priorities will allow them to weather a storm without raising property taxes or cutting public safety. Hospitals, clinics and nursing homes are capable of setting thoughtful priorities, too. They should do so so that they don’t have to cut jobs.
Instead of laying people off, perhaps these employees would be willing to accept a plan where they’re furloughed for a short period of time like 1 or 2 weeks. There are probably other ways of keeping these people employed. It’s time that the DFL thinks that a cut of any sort automatically leads to their preconceived notions.