The budget-balancing rhetoric continues as the Taxpayers League of Minnesota rips Senate Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller, DFL-Minneapolis, for criticizing Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s proposed shift of payments to schools — one of the ways the governor plans to balance the state budget.
Noting that Pogemiller said recently that the DFL-controlled state Senate is “against” the shift, Taxpayers League President Phil Krinkie said DFLers also proposed the shift and Pogemiller voted for it.
“Not only is Sen. Pogemiller a hypocrite, he hasn’t mentioned that the State Senate had voted in favor of the K-12 shift.” Krinkie said. “I want to remind Sen. Pogemiller that the K-12 shift has been used frequently by DFL led majorities in the past.
He said delaying payments to school districts has been used by the Legislature to help balance the states’ budget numerous times before, going back to 1980. Krinkie said he finds it ironic that “After being in session for five months and not working with Gov. Pawlenty on a budget solution … Sen. Pogemiller [is] now crying foul on the K-12 shift that the State Senate passed under his leadership.”
But Gary Hill, communications director for the DFL Senate majority, says Pogemiller is no fan of shifts but did vote for it only as a compromise effort at the end of the session, as part of an overall budget fix that included tax increases.
“It’s true that Sen. Pogemiller voted for a compromise of the Senate and House position: the House had a shift all along but the Senate did not, so in the interest of trying to bring the session to a conclusion, he compromised,” Hill said.
“And Krinkie is ignoring the central issue Sen. Pogemiller was trying to raise: that the governor doesn’t have the power to do a shift. He has the power to delay the payments, but not to restore those payments.”
Hill said the effect of the governor’s proposed shift will be to push the problem two years down the road, when the governor will have left office. “That’s hardly a solution,” he said.