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Proud GOP senators show off their budget, while irked DFL senators deride ‘phony’ numbers

DFL Sens. Linda Berglin and Tom Bakk lambaste  the GOP's budget package.
MinnPost photo by Jay Weiner
DFL Sens. Linda Berglin and Tom Bakk lambaste the GOP’s budget package.

The Republican Senate leaders were giddy and proud today. They brought charts showing that their majority caucus had passed 10 major budget bills that they say will allow the state to “live within its means” of a $34 billion biennial budget.

“We did what we said we were going to do,” said Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch. “We passed a balanced budget … we are balancing the budget within existing resources and we’re not raising taxes.”

They carried some fightin’ words, too, into a celebratory news conference this morning where Deputy Majority Leader Geoff Michel did the kickboxing.

“Senate Republicans have been hard at work,” he said. “The Senate DFL has been missing in action. They have chosen to sit on the sidelines in this budget debate. … I think that’s worth calling out. … We’re trying to clean up their mess,” he said, although some might note that the “mess” developed while a certain presidential candidate was governor for eight years.

Their budget plan, Koch and Michel said, was completed ahead of schedule and just awaits some fine-tuning in conference committees with the Republican-controlled House.

Oh, they need that guy, Gov. Mark Dayton, at the table, too, they noted.

A football metaphor
A rookie member of the GOP Senate Caucus provided another colorful analogy.

Claiming that the DFL has not participated in forming a budget, Sen. Dave Thompson, R-Lakeville, said: “I feel like a guy who went to the locker room, suited up for a football game, showed up at the 50-yard line, ready to go, and the other team didn’t show.”

Well, within minutes, DFL Majority Leader Tom Bakk did show — looking like an offensive lineman — and ready for action. Sen. Thompson, don’t mess with this guy.

Bakk was seething as he took over the lectern in Room 125 of the Capitol. He tossed out words such as “dishonest” and “phony” — and those were the compliments — when talking about the Republicans’ assertion that their budget was balanced and that taxes weren’t going to go up.

Sen. David Hann uses a chart to contrast GOP and DFL budget solutions.
MinnPost photo by Jay Weiner
Sen. David Hann uses a chart to contrast GOP and DFL budget solutions.

He produced a spreadsheet that projected a $300 million increase in property taxes under the new GOP budget. His figures came from the nonpartisan Senate research staff.

Bakk pointed to $308 million in shifts in the budget that transfer money from dedicated funds for use in the general fund. He and Sen. Linda Berglin noted, for example, that the GOP budget includes assumptions on a federal Medicaid waiver worth $603 million that they believe won’t be granted.

Said Bakk: “You can’t just make up numbers and then say you have a balanced budget.”

Berglin, the longtime human services conscience of the Senate, didn’t mince her words either.

“In the case of the human services bill, they’re going to need a lot more cuts than they have in the bill, but they’re not going to have any revenue,” she said. “How in the world they’re going to get 900- to a billion dollars’ worth of more cuts in that bill … I have no idea.”

Meanwhile, the GOP Senate leadership said it has been using outside consultants from such firms as IBM, Accenture and Deloitte & Touche to advise it on budget issues. To that, Sen. Berglin rolled her eyes.

Trouble in ‘paradise’
Call it just another rotten day in political paradise, where world views and statistics and moods tend to be diametrically opposed to one another. Call it same old, same old, with six weeks to go until the May 23 deadline for the Legislature to adjourn.

There’s no failure to communicate — everyone’s real good at that. But there is a failure to be anywhere in the same budgetary ZIP code, even, as Michel said, “The clock is ticking.”

Conference committees begin meeting next week on all the key budget bills. Bakk said the GOP legislative leaders and Dayton need to establish a “global” number and work off of that as they allocate dollars to different programs. That’s how budgets get done, said the veteran senator and tax expert.

But Koch and Michel reiterated that new taxes — or at least what they call new taxes — were off the table.

In the end, everyone knows there’s a showdown a-comin’. Even Michel, today’s John Wayne, said, “We’re excited to have our budget done … but we recognize it’s not done.”

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Comments (9)

  1. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 04/07/2011 - 04:44 pm.

    The most phony thing? The unwillingness to use the financial note numbers from the Pawlenty-appointed department heads. I guess even that was too much of a touch of reality.

  2. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 04/07/2011 - 06:47 pm.

    But then, these are the people that brag about creating their own realities.

  3. Submitted by Mark Viste on 04/07/2011 - 09:49 pm.

    Who referees the constitutional requirement that the budget balance? If everyone agrees to use the partisan estimates, can they be used to asset a balanced budget?

  4. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 04/08/2011 - 07:46 am.

    The Republicans are doing for American what they did for Iraq… and we can expect the same results.

  5. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 04/08/2011 - 10:30 am.

    So in electing Republican majorities in the Minnesota House and Senate, the public has clearly given them sufficient rope to hang themselves with.

    It’s fascinating how the Republicans are tying themselves up in an entire collection of gordian knots as they seek to excuse their phony numbers and explain how laying waste as far as the eye can see, especially in our state’s major cities, will really be a GOOD thing and thinking the public will never even notice that their lives, especially if they’re retired, on fixed incomes, and in poor health, are being destroyed for no other purpose than to lift ever higher into the stratosphere the incomes of the already fabulously wealthy.

    It’s amazing that our sad Republican friends are so blinded by their psychological dysfunctions that they simply can’t see how the collection of gordian knots they’re fashioning are forming themsleves into a noose (figuratively speaking, of course),…

    But you’d think they’d notice that some of the dizzy giddiness they’re feeling at finally being able to pass every crazy thing they ever wanted to pass, isn’t victory at all. It’s because it’s starting to get hard to breathe.

    They probably believe that they’re justifiably drunk on their new found power. Too late, I fear, will they discover that they were actually drunk on Amontillado.

  6. Submitted by Jeremy Powers on 04/08/2011 - 11:18 am.

    To me, the Republican “budget” – and I use the term VERY loosely – is a joke. It’s all a bunch of made-up numbers that don’t even add up. Half of the “cuts” they plan will actually cost more. This is a bunch of rigid ideologues who don’t realized they’re too incompetent to do the job they are supposed to.

  7. Submitted by Marcia Brekke on 04/08/2011 - 12:03 pm.

    I agree with the wag who said, “The people have voted, and now they will be punished.”

    Voters go to the polls with only rudimentary knowledge except for that gleaned in 30-second ads on TV and flyers that castigate Democrats (we personally received 20 of those “infommercials”) maligning our local state representative and senator who went on to lose.

    It’s a vindication of the five Republican-appointed justices of the Supreme Court’s “Citizens United” decision. And now we see the results playing out in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and around the country. Thank heavens Emmer was such a poor candidate, or we wouldn’t have Dayton to stem the right-wing tide in Minnesota.

  8. Submitted by Steven Liesch on 04/08/2011 - 01:16 pm.

    If I remember correctly,when this budgeting biennium ends,there will have to be a constitutional balance between spending and revenue.When that happens there will have to be shutdowns or “revenue enhancements” for this to happen.

    Do not worry,however,
    that is a whole election cycle in the future.

  9. Submitted by Andrew Kearney on 04/08/2011 - 03:02 pm.

    I always wondered how a seemingly competent “government reformer’ like Tim Pawlenty never got around in eight years to ‘reforming’ government. Now in 12 weeks of intense committee meetings with each committee being fully staffed and the advisory resources of the entire executive branch at their disposal the GOP have failed to balance the budget and have certainly failed at producing an ‘all cuts’ budget. it is time for everyone involved to admit that it can’t be done. The staring point for new revenue agreed to by all sides should be 900 million-the amount of the phony revenue/cuts in the GOP budget. Compromise from there. The right wing belief in a small government died this week. After eight years and 12 weeks I think we can all agree “It can’t be done.”

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