MN Speaker of the House Margaret Anderson Kelliher (in far, far too dark of lipstick and not enough blush) spoke with other DFL leaders last week about the state of our projected $5.3 billion budget deficit. They sound like defiant children in this press conference- taking NO responsbility for their actions. (I saw the entire conference on TV, couldn't find the video). Here are highlights from what both the Democrats and Republicans said:
My favorite line from Kelliher is the opening line of the press conference.
She dramatically states:
"This crisis didn't start here, but the solutions will begin here in the legislature."
I'm sorry- how did a state budget deficit not originate in St. Paul? State spending has been out of control. The size of our biennial budget has increased by 50% in the last ten years. The Democrats proposed a 19% increase in overall spending in the last biennial budget. They got a 10% increase (Pawlenty proposed a 9% increase). Health and Human Services spending in this state is ridiculous. Cut it. Cut welfare. Quit making is so attractive for people to move here who can't afford our above-average cost of living. Cut the maximum amount of time that people can collect welfare in this state from 60 months to 12 months. Give parents tax credits to pull their kids out of the public schools to eliminate some of the burden on the schools to be "all things to all people". Cut funding to the "U" until they can come up with a plan that gets tuition under $7,500 a year. Force the "U" and "MNSCU" to eliminate duplication of services and enforce "Cost Containment" on higher Ed. Cut taxes on corporations if you want to create jobs. I mean- my goodness- we border states that have NO corporate taxes. We are one of the most overtaxed states in the nation. And- news flash: It's really, really cold here.
Let the nation know- we have a highly educated workforce here with a work ethic that is second-to-none and we want your business here. Let small business owners know that you will make all efforts to cut regulations and over-taxation so that there is less fear and risk in starting a new company.
Pass legislation so that Minnesota is a "Right to Work" state in order to drive down our high cost of labor in this state.
Re-think everything. As Pawlenty said last week: "This is a great opportunity". (Don't get me started on the fact that he should have been saying this last year at this time.)
Democrats talked last week about wanting to put more government money into research projects and "green jobs" (this was in the full length of the press conference) to spur job growth.
"This is a time when people need to run towards the Capitol and bring their best ideas of how to make these investments"
What investments? There's no money. Hello!
There will be no room for the faint of heart in this upcoming session. This is a debate about the future of our state. Will we continue to be one of the welfare capitols of the country (a la California) and go broke? Or will be work to be the very best Minnesota with less limitations and more opportunities so that we can afford to take care of the poorest among us?