The Legislature is Lacking Leadership

The big news coming out of St. Paul last week was the Minnesota Supreme Court ruling against Governor Pawlenty on his unallotment action last year (his unilateral budget reductions as a result of the Legislature’s failure to balance the budget).

The majority opinion of the 4-3 court ruling was based on what they thought was “Legislative intent”. In other words, the judges read into the law more than what was actually written in statute. (The dissenting opinion written by Judge Gildea is well written, and right on target.)

The result of this decision is that the Legislature now has an additional $2.7 billion deficit to deal with. It’s ironic how House Democrats used taxpayer money to file a “friend of the court” brief to join the lawsuit against Governor Pawlenty, and used nonpartisan staff to prepare the brief, and now that they’ve “won” they have no plan on how to plug the hole in the deficit they created. In fact, they haven’t even come up with a complete plan to solve the smaller deficit that was there before the Supreme Court decision. And we’re down to the last week before the constitutional deadline before adjournment.

In an act of pure political theater, House Democrats offered up an amendment on the House Floor last week that would ratify the Governor’s unallotment action, then promptly voted it down, then tabled the underlying bill. They have no plan, other than attacking the Governor.

I’m not a big fan of political theater any time of the year, but the final days of the Legislative session is the worst time of all to do it. It’s time to get the job done. Unfortunately, Legislative Democrats have spent too much time the last two years beating up the Governor, rather than trying to work with him. They have sent him tax increases they know he would veto, rather than trying to negotiate solutions.

No one relishes making the decisions that have to be made in the face of billion-plus dollar deficits, but someone has to take a leadership role and make the tough decisions. Unfortunately, the Legislature, under control of the Democrats, is sorely lacking in leadership.

I have made tough decisions at the local level when revenues were cut. It’s not easy, but leaders have to make decisions that may not be politically popular. I know next year’s Legislature will have to make tough decisions. But we have to do it for our kids and grandkids.

Roger Crawford