Unallotment strategy will devastate MinnesotaThe challenging 2009 legislative session has adjourned. The Legislature passed a responsible and balanced budget to address Minnesota’s $6.4 billion deficit.
By: Steve Murphy, Red Wing, The Republican Eagle
The challenging 2009 legislative session has adjourned. The Legislature passed a responsible and balanced budget to address Minnesota’s $6.4 billion deficit.
This budget created jobs, protected rural hospitals and nursing homes, and preserved funding for local police and fire services. Unfortunately, the governor’s unwillingness to accept this compromise jeopardizes these efforts.
In the final days of session, the governor said to the Legislature, it’s my way or the highway. He said either we adopt his irresponsible, unbalanced, and unconstitutional budget or he would unilaterally cut the budget through unallotments.
Because the Legislature wanted a fair and fiscally responsible solution to the budget crisis that protected Minnesota’s priorities and laid the foundation for economic recovery, we simply couldn’t adopt his budget plan that did not balance.
In his budget, the governor relied on borrowing $1 billion against future revenue (costing Minnesota taxpayers $800 million in interest), and drastic cuts to health care and police and fire protection in Minnesota communities. Alternatively, the legislative budget used a balanced and constitutional approach using significant cuts to state government spending (more than the governor proposed), reforms, and increased revenues to resolve the deficit.
By using this balanced approach to getting our state back on track, the Legislature was not jeopardizing Minnesota’s economic future by borrowing against future funds and saddling our citizens with this massive debt.
While the governor is quick to criticize the Legislature for the budget, it needs to be noted that he signed all of the Legislature’s budget bills, which made substantial cuts to all areas of state government at higher levels than he proposed. It is he who chose not to balance the budget with his refusal to sign the tax bill, which provided the steady revenue needed for fiscal stability.
In addition, the governor line-item vetoed the General Assistance Medical Care program, which, according to Human Services Commissioner Cal Ludeman, provides health care for Minnesota’s “poorest and sickest” citizens. Along with removing 30,000 people from basic health care coverage, this veto will devastate rural hospital budgets.
Besides being overtly cruel, the governor is being economically foolish with this veto. Especially in rural Minnesota communities, hospitals are often the primary employer. These drastic cuts could lead to widespread layoffs or even hospital closures.
Besides taking away people’s health care, the governor is taking away their jobs.
The governor’s unallotment plans will have tremendous negative impacts for rural Minnesota. Property taxes in rural communities are expected to increase by 11.5 percent or $317.5 million across the state. Additionally, nursing homes will be a likely target for further budget reductions under the governor’s unallotment strategy.
The way this session ended proves that Gov. Pawlenty is more concerned with his national political ambitions than the needs of his state.
His eagerness to unilaterally dismantle the state budget on the backs of the poor, sick, elderly, and property tax payers, rather than find a balanced solution to our budget crisis, shows that he simply does not care about Minnesota.
By presenting a fair and balanced budget, the Legislature attempted to protect our schools, nursing homes, and hospitals.
Unfortunately, the governor’s unwillingness to compromise will jeopardize the funding for these things Minnesotans hold dear.
Steve Murphy, DFL-Red Wing, can be reached at 651) 385-7649 or email@example.com.