Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch calls the results of the MinnPost poll “a classic situation” in finding that by a 2-to-1 margin, Minnesotans blame the Legislature, not the governor, for the budget crisis and shutdown.
“People never like the Congress or the Legislature,” Koch said. “They may like their own legislator but not the body as a whole.”
Laughing, Koch said that cultural attitudes toward the national and lawmaking institutions even show up in one of her favorite TV programs, “The Simpsons.”
She repeated a bit of dialogue from the episode in which a mechanized disc jockey, DJ 2000, was being unveiled:
“How ’bout those clowns in Congress?” DJ 2000 says.
“How does he keep up with current events like that?” an obviously impressed Homer wonders.
Koch believes that one of the reasons people might hold the Legislature more responsible for the crisis and shutdown is reflected in one of the poll questions, which she considers misleading.
The question: Which approach would you rather see used to balance the state budget: Use spending cuts only, use tax increases only, or use a combination of spending cuts and tax increases? (By a 3 to 1 margin, those polled preferred the combination approach.)
“Our budget wasn’t cuts only,” Koch insisted. “For example, we increased K-12 funding. … There are a lot of folks who are beginning to understand that.”
That the governor’s approval ratings have taken a hit — the poll shows that 40 per cent approve of the governor’s leadership, 40 per cent disapprove — was a partial surprise to Koch.
“That’s lower than he’s been,” she said. “It’s lower than I thought he would be.”
Since the budget agreement was reached, Koch has been speaking to small groups as she unwinds.
The “intensity” was beyond anything she’s experienced, Koch said. She’s reminded of how difficult negotiations with the governor and legislators were as she watches the political collisions in Washington.
Koch said she and House Speaker Kurt Zellers sometimes would remind the governor that his negotiating job was easier than theirs.
“We’d say, ‘Governor, you just have to agree with yourself.’ ”