Yesterday, I dissected Tarryl’s e-letter update in this post. Though I stand by the things I said, despite the objections of a lefty blogger who shall remain nameless, there are a couple things I’d intended to address that I’ll address in this post. The first thing that I’ll address is this statement:
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.
While it’s true that Gov. Pawlenty’s unallotment is the biggest in state history, it’s worth pointing out that the DFL leadership’s lack of seriousness in solving the deficit is unprecedented, too.
It isn’t accurate to say that the DFL didn’t submit a balanced budget. It’s accurate, though, to say that the first balanced budget they submitted to Gov. Pawlenty passed the Senate with minutes left in the session. It’s equally accurate to say that the Tax Bill that passed was a hodgepodge bill, filled with a litany of tax increases and spending shifts.
That final bill was such a mess that veteran journalists like Tom Hauser let people know that he didn’t take it seriously by telling people watching his At Issue show that there still was a $2,700,000,000 deficit that Gov. Pawlenty had to deal with.
Tom Hanson noted in this letter that, even with the tax increase that was passed with minutes left to go in the session, there would be a significant shortfall with just tax increases:
Dear Governor Pawlenty:
The purpose of this letter is to inform you of reductions necessary to balance the stateâ€™s general fund budget for the upcoming biennium. Based on the recently completed general fund statement, the enacted budget spends a projected $2.676 billion more than available for fiscal years 2010-11. No budget reserve remains to help mitigate this shortfall.
According to the text of HF2323, the Conference Committee report included significant shifts for K-12 education. The bill was so bad that Rep. Pelowski, (DFL-Winona), and Rep. Poppe, (DFL-Freeborn), joined with the House GOP in voting against it.
In other words, a thoughtful argument can be made that Gov. Pawlenty’s actions are justified because the DFL didn’t meet its constitutional requirements. I’ve been watching Minnesota politics a long time but I’ve never heard of the legislature not passing a budget that didn’t balance before the end of session.
In other words, extroardinary situations require extraordinary actions.
Here’s another section of Tarryl’s e-letter that needs scrutinizing:
The Governor is trying to mimic a shift normally done by the legislature, but his efforts are not the real thing. The legislature must act to restore those funds or the shifts become cuts and districts are left holding the bag. Taken together the loss of federal funds and the need to repay the districts will reopen a gaping shortfall of $4.9 billion, $7.3 with inflation, in the stateâ€™s budget. This is a fiscal mess the Governorâ€™s plan leaves for a future governor and legislature.
First, the DFL legislature did pass a set of shifts to K-12 education. They’re part of HF2323, the last bill passed in the 2009 session. Second, the DFL leadership wasn’t bashful about using one-time money to balance the budget:
DFLers are pinning much of their hope for short-term relief on a national stimulus package coming out of Washington, suggesting the money can be used to fund infrastructure and construction projects that bring immediate job opportunities.
That was in an article written in late January by the Strib’s Mark Brunswick. Now Tarryl is complaining that Gov. Pawlenty is using one-time money to solve this biennium’s deficit. Frankly, it’s time that Tarryl and the rest of her DFL cohorts figured out better arguments because these arguments are intellectually feeble.