Minnesota’s Budget Battle Continues

We have reported from time to time on the battle raging over Minnesota’s state budged for the next biennium. Most states are dealing with budget shortfalls in one way or another; what makes Minnesota interesting is that our Governor, Tim Pawlenty, was elected last November on a no-tax-increases pledge, and has stuck to his word despite ever-increasing hysteria from Minnesota’s liberal establishment. The battle is about to reach its climax, and three articles in this morning’s Star Tribune reflect the current status of the conflict.
Our friend Michael Wigley, founder of the Taxpayers League (see link at left), has an op-ed titled “DFL aims a blow at job creators” in which he patiently points out, to those who may be unaware of the connection, that tax increases proposed by the DFL party will destroy jobs.
The Strib has an editorial titled “Right turn only / A break with Minnesota’s past”, which continues the Strib’s shrill insistence that the Pawlenty Administration, and its supporters in the House, are betraying Minnesota’s proud tradition of liberalism:
“The 2003 Legislature is coming to a close, and its legacy is coming into focus: A state with more guns and more gambling, less child care and less health care. Voters might have tilted in a conservative direction last November, but surely they did not intend this radical departure from Minnesota’s values and traditions.”
And finally, House Speaker Steve Sviggum puts the outcry into perspective by addressing the “less child care” issue bemoaned by the Strib:
“Did you know that Minnesotans on welfare can send their kids to the most expensive child care center around, with taxpayers picking up almost all of the tab? Or that a family of four making $52,900 a year can send their children to a very nice child care center that costs $3,000 a month for two kids, pay a total of just $882 a month themselves, and let Minnesota taxpayers foot the rest of the bill?
“These are just a few facts that DFL legislators, their special interest groups and liberal editorial writers conveniently forget to mention when making outlandish, the sky-is-falling statements about subsidized child care reductions proposed by Minnesota House Republicans.
“Here are the facts: The House has proposed moving Minnesota from No. 1 by a country mile among states in the Midwest when it comes to subsidized child care eligibility to No. 1 by about half a mile.
“Currently, a family with an income around 290 percent of the federal poverty level qualifies for subsidized child care in our state. House Republicans have proposed scaling this back to 250 percent of federal poverty, meaning that a Minnesota family of four earning $45,270 a year would still be eligible for taxpayer-assisted child care.
“The fact is, subsidized child care spending, like most areas of the state’s health and human services budget, exploded in previous years to unsustainable levels. We simply cannot continue to increase overall health and welfare spending in Minnesota by 20 percent every two years, as was forecast for 2004-2005. Holding the overall increase to 9 percent, as the House Republican budget does, is much more reasonable and sustainable for Minnesota taxpayers.
“And if a 9 percent health and welfare increase is not enough, how much is enough?”
I think we’re going to win the battle this year, but only because we have a Governor who is not only courageous, but is a skilled and popular politician. So, in tribute to Governor Pawlenty, here is a photo of him from today’s newspaper celebrating the opening of Minnesota’s fishing season.
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