I am in meetings at the Capitol today as we attempt to get a budget solution in place before the fiscal year ends at midnight, preventing a government shutdown from starting tomorrow.
The governor must call a special session in order for us to pass the bills necessary to keep government operating past July 1. We still can avert a shutdown by approving a full budget or enacting temporary measures. We also could mitigate the impact of a shutdown by passing roughly half of our budget where we already are in agreement or we are within reach.
If the governor does not call a special session, government operations deemed non-essential would come to a halt Friday. Nobody wins in that scenario and it would be disappointing if a shutdown took place because it is unnecessary. The Legislature already sent the governor several balanced budget bills and has offered great compromise in recent weeks, including fully matching the governors K-12 education spending. We also conceded tax reductions we were seeking.
The governor has stated, “Until I agree to everything, I won’t agree to anything,” a stance which led the St. Paul Pioneer Press editorial staff to say, “This is not compromise. This is hostage taking.”
The impasse continues to center on the Legislature’s commitment to staying within the $34 billion in revenue the state expects to receive in the upcoming biennium. Our 6-percent proposal would allow us to fund our priorities without raising taxes. The governor proposes outspending our projected revenue by nearly $2 billion and wants to raise taxes to help cover that additional government growth.
Minnesota’s budget is poised to grow by nearly 30 percent in the next two years if we do not take action. The governor’s proposal is a double-digit increase that would keep us on an unsustainable path. If we do not get a grip on spending growth, we very likely will find ourselves in another budget crunch two years from now.
Despite all the claims the governor’s plan would only tax the top 2 percent of income earners, we all would end up paying more one way or another. Among other things, the Dept. of Revenue indicates the tax increases would be passed along to us in the form of lower wages for workers and higher prices on the things we all buy.
You can read that report here: Click Here
I still hope we can reach a solution to prevent a state shutdown before the clock strikes midnight tonight. But a plan I favor is one that exhibits fiscal responsibility by acknowledging economic reality. Hard-working taxpayers simply cannot afford to continue feeding government growth at this pace.
Thank you to all the area folks who have remained in contact with me throughout the 2011 legislative session and in recent weeks as budget work continues. Your thoughts and concerns are very valuable to me as I keep on working to do my best in giving our area a strong voice at the Capitol. You also may want to contact the governor and let him know where you stand on the budget. Reach him by phone at (651) 201-3400 or by emailing http://mn.gov/governor/contact-us/form.