Gary Gross, who represents the propaganda machine for the local conservative movement, provides ample spin and distortion with his humorously titled, DFL Leadership CLEARLY to Blame for the Poor Legislative Session.
3. Under Speaker Margaret Kelliher’s leadership, the House collected $181,120 in out-of-session, tax-free per diem. Under DFL Leader Larry Pogemiller’s leadership, senators collected $143,500 in out-of-session, tax-free per diem.
2. Because the Legislature refused to trim more from their stamp allowance from 5,500 stamps per legislator per year to 3,500 per legislator per year, Minnesota’s taxpayers won’t save $350,000 for this and next year.
Really? The best that the Republican leadership could come up with in cutting the budget was a stamp allowance cut? Again, rather than play politics over a VOLUNTARY allowance, it would have been nice of the Republicans to unilaterally give up their stamp allowance. Did that happen? I suspect not.
Well here is some interesting spin. Given that this last minute tax bill was the SECOND to be sent to Governor Pawlenty, it appears as though Gary does not want to admit that "technically" the DFL-dominated Legislature balanced the budget TWICE!1. While it’s technically true that the DFL-dominated Legislature sent Gov. Tim Pawlenty a balanced budget, it’s only because the DFL reconvened the conference committee on taxes at 10:30 on the last night. During that meeting, the DFL did a total rewrite, which was debated less than 15 minutes in the House and Senate combined.
No reform, misplaced priorities and tax increases. Even now, there is time to work out other solutions, and Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s invitation to the Democrats is open, as it was from the start of the session.
If the Democrats could interrupt their Tour of Blame long enough to really work with the governor, we might all appreciate the results. If they cannot or will not, rest assured, Pawlenty will balance the budget without more state spending and tax increases.
The third letter, in this battle of the blame, was submitted by Senator Tarryl Clark. While I tend to agree with her assessment of unallotment, I do wish that she or someone on my side of the aisle or any side of the aisle would admit that there is a certain level of failure on all sides. With all due respect to Senator Clark, as soon as the Governor made this unilateral move to employ unallotment I would have camped outside his office and negotiated with him 24 hours a day for the remaining days. I don't imagine it would have worked given that he appeared unwilling to budge but it would have given that DFL far more authority to claim that they tried and that it was clearly the intransigence of this Governor that caused the breakdown.
In the budget-setting toolbox, unallotment is the sledgehammer. It just pounds dents in one part of the state’s budget. It does not give a governor the ability to enact policy or to make changes that might result in increased quality, efficiency or service to taxpayers. Using unallotment as a main budget setting tool is a bad idea, and little more than bad results can be expected.
The state’s budget desperately needs an overhaul, but the mechanic who took over the job is flailing a hammer. That will not bode well for Minnesota’s taxpayers.