Rudy Boschwitz speaks

Adding some heft to the idea of a deux ex machina to resolve Minnesota’s budget battle, my friend Rudy Boschwitz writes:

Inasmuch as elder statesmen are becoming involved in our state’s budget battles, I too will join the fray. Voters didn’t leave me in doubt when they went to the polls just eight months ago. The shout for fiscal restraint and responsibility was loud and clear.

In May the Legislature passed the biggest budget in Minnesota history — but it was in balance. It called for a 6 percent spending increase over 2 years. Importantly, it included structural changes for the future. The governor wants a 13-15 percent increase over the period. In these times such an increase is a non-starter that surely doesn’t reflect what the people told us last November.

Unlike the federal budget which is a single document, the State Budget comprises 10 bills. The Legislature passed them. The governor vetoed 9 of them. On 6 of them – including the transportation bill – the differences are slight. The governor should call the Legislature back, pass those 6 and argue about the other 3 later. The roads and potholes need to be fixed. Minnesota summers are too short to waste!

The Mondale/Carlson Commitee wants to pass a “temporary” income tax surcharge affecting every Minnesotan who pays income taxes. These temporary taxes have a way of becoming permanent as the spending they support doesn’t go away.

Forty five states or more have balanced their budgets through spending cuts without tax increases. Many had deficits far larger than Minnesota’s.

Minnesota now is the only state in the nation that has not resolved its budget crisis. It’s time to act. Last November the voters spoke with the utmost clarity. The Legislature’s Budget calls for a 6 percent increase over two years — which is quite a bit — but it’s in balance. The governor wants a 13-15 percent increase supported by new taxes. That’s not a very hard choice to make.

Rudy Boschwitz is the Republican former United States Senator (Minn., 1978-1991) and former U.S. Ambassador to the UN Human Rights Commission (2005).