Spotlight on Minnesota


“We need to live within our means.” “No new taxes.”  The Republican leadership ‘s budget was predicated on these two arguments. They claimed that this was the fiscally responsible approach to governing. 

Yesterday’s announcement that Governor Dayton had accepted their budget proposal reveals a plan that is anything but fiscally responsible.

Their budget is dependent on borrowing even more money from the state’s schools. 

Another portion of that budget is generated with money borrowed from future tobacco money revenues. And all of this borrowed money is one -time money.

In other words, the budget is dependent on money that the state does not have.

The Republican leadership proposed a budget that depends on money that is promised to our children.

They are willing to borrow billions of dollars, but they refuse to generate tax revenue for vital needs by increasing tax rates for millionaires.

It does not take an economist to recognize that this is fiscally irresponsible.

I would argue that any twelve year-old would recognize the fundamental flaws in their arguments and their math.

The shutdown has placed Minnesota in the nation’s spotlight. What has this this budget proposal reveal about our state? The fundamental priorities of the Republican leadership?

If the nation had been watching the state closely the last eight years, they would have identified the underlying cause for  today’s crisis. Throughout his eight year tenure as governor, Tim Pawlenty used the same tactics relentlessly to subvert any authentic dialogue with his unwavering commitment to the ‘no new taxes’ pledge.

That single line has kept the state of Minnesota spinning its wheels for the last eight years. Rather than honestly wrestling with the business of the state including tax reform and long term economic plans that will sustain the state’s future, all dialogue was reduced to the narrow parameters set by the ‘no new taxes’ ideology.

And our current crisis reveals the disastrous results of preventing honest and responsible dialogue.

We have no plan for our future. We are borrowing from our children and we have lost more than eight years to the ‘no new tax’ mantra.

Why would anyone consider this a desirable outcome?

The nation’s eyes are on Minnesota not because we have effectively created an economy that sustains our communities while protecting natural resources-a goal worthy of any state. They are not watching Minnesota celebrate a budget that reflects a commitment to the Common Good.

Instead they are witnessing the perilous outcome of electing leaders whose commitment to “no new taxes” is absolute.