Friday night, former state Rep. Karla Bigham was part of Almanac’s political roundtable with Denise Cardinal representing the DFL and Jen DeJournett and Gregg Peppin representing the MNGOP. Suffice it to say that this wasn’t Bigham’s shining moment.

First, she never got beyond the DFL’s talking points. There didn’t appear to be any original thought involved in her answers. The other thing that made this a less-than-stellar performance was her consistent insistence that Gov. Pawlenty drove up property taxes by not raising income taxes.

This must be a great gig for DFL mayors. They get to spend foolishly, then have pundits like Rep. Bigham blame their misspending on Republicans. It’s better than no-fault insurance. R.T. Rybak and especially Chris Coleman spend money they don’t have on things they don’t need.

They don’t have to set spending priorities or say no, either, because the Karla Bighams of the world will blame Gov. Pawlenty for the spending mess in St. Paul and Minneapolis.

We know that setting spending priorities isn’t something the DFL is accustomed to:

Let’s start with some of the most memorable quotes from the Forum. The first memorable quote was from ‘Grandpa Larry’ Haws. Steve Gottwalt had just said that we needed to do a better job prioritizing education spending, prompting Larry Haws to say “Maybe we do need to prioritize.”

That doesn’t sound like someone who’s accustomed to setting priorities, does it? In fact, that sounds like someone who thinks of setting priorities as a foreign concept.

Local property taxes are determined by how big the city’s wish list is and how much of that wish list is included in the budget. By saying that their messes are Gov. Pawlenty’s fault is exempting mayors, city councils and county commissioners from responsibility for their decisions.

Let’s phrase this differently. If R.T. Rybak or Chris Coleman and that city’s city council decide to spend money, what authority does Minnesota’s governor have in preventing the spending of that money on that item? The only role Minnesota’s governor has in that city’s budget is whether he vetoes legislation that will subsidize that city’s spending decisions.

Either way, the mayor and city council are responsible for their spending decisions. They can choose to not spend the money, spend money on something but not as much as that department had hoped for or they can vote to spend money on a project but only after they reform how that agency or department delivers that service.

Denise Cardinal stuck to the DFL script, too, though she didn’t say anything as outlandish and provably false as Rep. Bigham said. If Bigham and Cardinal are the best spokespeople for the DFL, they’ve got some difficulties with independents.

Jen DeJournett and Gregg Peppin did a solid job of explaining the GOP agenda. When talking about the high priority bills that were introduced this week, DeJournett and Peppin did a nice job of explaining how that legislation would make Minnesota more business friendly.

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