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Reaction to Shutdown Deal

MORNING EDITION From all sides and perspectives, reaction to The Deal pours in.
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Reaction to Shutdown Deal

There is no end of reaction to The Deal that ends The Shutdown. Rick Ungar, blogging for Forbes magazine, under a title that reads, “Minnesota Government To Re-open As Gov. Dayton Caves On Tax Increases,” says: “The agreement, which provides no new tax increases despite Dayton’s campaign promise that he would levy new income taxes as a critical element of solving the state’s budget gap, is being viewed by both sides as a compromise. The ‘give’ on the Republican side will include some $1.4 billion in new revenues but those revenues will be achieved by delaying payment of $700 million in state aid to public school districts while the remaining half will be raised by selling tobacco payment bonds. The GOP leadership also agreed to back off their effort to cut the state’s workforce by 15% and took a variety of conservative social policy changes off the table. Of course, these social policy changes had nothing to do with budgetary policy in the first place.”

Mark Guarino of the Christian Science Monitor calls around and then writes: “Republicans have not declared victory yet, which is evidence of the contentious relationship between the executive and legislative branches in the state. Tensions have only heightened since the arrival of the GOP’s freshmen class of lawmakers, the majority of whom have the backing of the tea party. Since the government shut down two weeks ago, both parties have managed to get together only twice to discuss compromise proposals offered by Dayton. Republicans rejected both offers, which could signal that they don’t view a government shutdown as necessarily a bad thing. ‘This is a prototypical tea party moment,’ says Steve Perry, managing editor of Politics in Minnesota in St. Paul. “A government shutdown isn’t a loss; it’s a win. For them, bringing the beast to its knees is a triumph.”

Mark Kelly, writing on the lefty FightBack!News site, says: “The framework agreement reached by Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton and Republican politicians is a victory for big corporations and Minnesota’s wealthy. For the rest of us, it is a setback. It is the opposite of what a progressive solution to the state budget crisis should be. The Republican shutdown of state government appears to be ending with a Republican solution to the budget short fall — the burden of the crisis will be shifted onto the backs [of] poor and working people. Again. While the many of the specifics of the budget will be worked out over the next few days, the broad outline of what’s intended is clear. Governor Dayton decided to take one of the pre-shutdown Republican offers, which means that payments to school districts will be delayed and bonds will be issued for tobacco settlement money. Dayton abandoned the approach of taxing Minnesota’s rich — even though that is what he campaigned on and why he got elected.”

Edie Grossfield at the Rochester Post-Bulletin reports: “Local legislators had mixed reactions to Gov. Mark Dayton’s offer today to end a two-week government shutdown by accepting the Republicans’ last proposal to solve the state budget crisis. ‘I’m excited that we’ve gotten to a point where the governor saw value in our last offer,’ said Rep. Mike Benson, a Rochester Republican, who spoke Thursday afternoon on his cell phone from the Wabasha County Fair. … Rep. Kim Norton, a Democrat from Rochester, said she had mixed feelings about Dayton’s concession. She said Thursday’s offer to the GOP was his fourth since the government shutdown on July 1 and that this last offer was an example of Dayton as statesman.”

A story by Trish Volpe at KARE-TV says: “Dayton and DFL leaders may have a hard time convincing even their own people to accept this agreement. And GOP leaders may find it difficult to gain caucus support for an offer than keeps conservative policy changes out. ‘There will be conservative Republicans, especially social conservatives, who will be unhappy with Dayton’s proposals that certain provisions that are really non-budgetary be taken out of the spending bills and that will create problems for the Republican leaders and that will create problems for the Democrats too [who] will be very unhappy that a variety of social programs will receive less funding,’ [political analyst Steve] Smith said.”

The Strib editorializes: “Dayton’s antipathy for the approach GOP leaders first brought to him on June 29 is more than justified. This is a lousy way to keep public books in balance. It perpetuates an imbalance between state spending and revenues that has become chronic in the past decade, and heaps financial risk and borrowing costs upon the government service politicians profess to prize the most, K-12 education. The nation’s bond rating agencies are certain to scorn this move, and react accordingly. … If this is truly the best Dayton and Republican legislators can do, they should do it quickly and get the full state workforce back on the job. Then they should prepare answers to the tough questions they deserve to hear from an ill-served electorate. Is this how the current cast of capitol characters expects to continue to govern in 2012 and beyond?” If they are the same characters in 2012 and beyond, probably.

KAAL-TV, covering the Rochester area, wonders if something went on in Rochester during Dayton’s visit yesterday: “State Senator Dave Senjem, also of Rochester, had a private lunch with the governor after the Rochester meeting. He’s says we’ll likely never know for sure, but thinks a conversation he had with the governor over lunch may have had an [effect] as well. ‘We just talked about the good of the state and from my perspective … governor what does this accomplish? How are you going to be remembered? How are they going to remember Mark Dayton when they look at the picture in the capitol? They won’t remember us,’ said Senator Senjem. ‘They won’t remember the senate majority, the republican majority. They’ll remember the governor. So what do you want them to think?’ Almost all the other southeast Minnesota lawmakers were either already up in the capitol, out of town or unavailable for on camera interviews today. However Representative Rich Murray, of Albert Lea, says if both sides agree to the governor’s proposal, all we’re really doing is postponing the problem for another few years. ‘Right now, what we’re doing today, what this proposal is doing is kicking the can down the road. We’re not solving anything with this,’ said Representative Murray.”

Over at Finance & Commerce, Brian Johnson writes: “The inclusion of a $500 million bonding bill in a budget deal is good news to many in the construction industry who have been encouraging the state to pass such a bill to put people back on the job in Minnesota. Minnesota’s construction economy, as measured by job losses, has been among the nation’s worst. Minnesota lost 6,700 construction jobs between May 2010 and May 2011. The governor’s proposal ‘looks like something that should fly,’ said Phil Raines, vice president of public affairs for the Minnesota Associated Builders and Contractors, as he headed for the Capitol on Thursday.”

House Minority Leader Paul Thissen is applying the cosmetics. Sam Lane at The Minnesota Independent writes: “He noted Republicans have rejected seven budget compromises without offering any new ideas throughout the two-week shutdown. He said GOP legislators have ‘gone to incredible lengths’ to protect millionaires and corporate special interests. ‘By offering the Republicans their budget, Governor Dayton is rising above politics, above partisanship, and making Minnesota his top priority. It is now up to the Republicans to end this costly and destructive government shutdown by accepting and immediately passing this offer. The clock is ticking.’ ”