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Rep. Kieffer: We Must Reform Our Spending Habits

The Republican who represents much of Woodbury in the state House weighs in as a government shutdown looms.

As we wait for Governor Dayton to call back the Legislature for a special session with a budget agreement, state employees are planning for the worst and hoping for the best. 

The basic divide seems to be this: Does the state government need more money? Some say yes, others say no. Many say it is time for reform.

To clarify, spending in the Legislature’s budget proposal is increased by 12 percent if you exclude American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) money from the federal government in 2009. The last biennium spending was at $30 billion, this legislature’s proposal is to spend $34 billion.

Either way you compute it—this is an increase in spending and not an “all cuts budget.” Increasing the state budget by $4 billion is still fiscally responsible and stays within the state’s projected revenues. In other words, we do not need to borrow money or increase taxes to fund the budget in the next biennium. 

Within the Legislature’s budget bills are many long-overdue reforms such as the formation of a Sunset Commission to eliminate obsolete programs and departments, priority-based budgeting, competitive grant processes, and reducing the state workforce through attrition (not layoffs) by the year 2015.

Will these reforms resolve the systemic problems with our state spending habits? They should—but this will be a bold move in redesigning the way core and essential services are provided.

Governor Dayton talks about helping the most vulnerable Minnesotans, but his proposal lacks the reforms included in the Legislature’s budget, which would offer low-income Minnesotans more market alternatives in health care and education. The Legislature’s proposals would serve vulnerable individuals better than Dayton's policy proposals, which are only more of the same programs at higher costs.

Real reforms that make sense moving into the future will make us more competitive in areas of education and private-sector job growth.

In addition, the Affordable Care Act has started the dialogue as to how we can provide health care to our citizens in the most efficient way and offer access to all. Regardless of your opinion as to whether the ACA should be repealed or refined, the conversation has started, and that is a good thing.

Bills could be signed that meet the governor’s funding targets such as K-12 education and public safety/judiciary. The Transportation Bill will allow our highway construction workers to continue their projects as funded already. There is no need for a shutdown in these areas of our government. In the meantime, our state workers and vulnerable citizens are being used as bargaining chips for an unnecessary tax increase because of an all or nothing stance.

We do not have a revenue problem, and “taxing the rich” is a shortsighted answer that will ultimately harm our fragile economy.  I do not want a state government shutdown, and I hope the governor will keep his word when he told viewers in a debate on Oct. 24, 2010—he would not shut down the government in order to get his tax increase.

Please call Governor Dayton’s office at 651-201-3400 today—he has the power to call for a special session so we can move forward and do what is best for all of Minnesota. 

Rep. Andrea Kieffer, Republican, District 56B

Scott H July 01, 2011 at 12:58 AM
Hey, what happened to my reply?? Censorship!!
Paul July 01, 2011 at 11:08 PM
Governor Dayton was on the radio tonight and he said that late last night he put a proposal to the GOP leaders for a small tax incrrease on annual incomes over $1 million, and the GOP leaders rejected immediately. He was speechless, as I would have been too. Dayton said the GOP leaders' hands were tied by "their caucuses" which means people like Mrs. Kieffer...who wouldn't have voted for it. SO, 23,000 hard working families are WITHOUT an INCOME now, and will start MISSING PAYMENTS on their mortgages, because a small and reasonable increase on the taxes of people making over $1 million a YEAR is not acceptable to people like Mrs. Kieffer. I always thought elected officials were reasonable, but I no longer believe that. Seems like something is totally out of whack, if the GOP's priorities are so much at odds with the best interests of the voters. The elections in 2012 will be very interesting.
Scott H July 05, 2011 at 04:32 PM
What happens if say 10% of the newly taxed "rich" people decide to move elsewhere? Some of them taking their business and jobs with them. All of a sudden, MN isn't getting all this planned revenue from them anymore, and we're facing another budget shortfall. Now what do we do? Will Mark Dayton then say tax those making over $500K? $250K? Then the same scenario plays out in the next cycle. Because rich people are rich, they can afford to a) leave the state, b) move jobs out of the state, c) shelter their income from the state, or d)not move to the state to begin with. There are plenty of other states with lower or no income taxes that would be happy to have our "rich" folks, their businesses, and the jobs that come with them. And don't think they won't leave. There are no compelling reasons to stay in MN. Because they are "rich", they can afford whatever quality of life they want in any other state in the US. So Dayton's tax increase balances the budget this year. Next year, it's not enough, who is he going to go after then? Is he going to reduce spending during the next budget cycle? I doubt it, when's the last time we reduced spending? Why can't the state just live within it's means? How much spending is enough for the Huffpo crowd here?
Scott H July 05, 2011 at 04:39 PM
5 Dayton Lies http://www.scribd.com/doc/59184351/5-Lies-from-Gov-Dayton-s-June-30th-Shutdown-Speech
Dave Anderson July 05, 2011 at 05:37 PM
The Pioneer Press ran a great (and frankly surprising Opinon) on Sunday essentially blaming Dayton for his short sighted, band-aid approach to solving the budget issue: 1) Dayton did not agree to the "lights on" measure proposed by the legislature tha touwl ahve kept the State open becasue he wanted "inflict enough pain on the state to force the Republican Legislature to its knees". 2) "The Legislature passed a complete budget and sent it to the governor. He vetoed it. Meanwhile, the governor has yet to put forward a full budget himself. Instead, he put forward a set of numbers without the details to back them up. " 3) "While tax revenue will be up nearly 6 percent this year, Dayton wants spending to increase 12 percent. This kind of spending is unsustainable." 4) The piece criticized the tax the rich scheme: "Problem is, taxing the rich is a Band-aid, not a solution. We already have one of the higher state income taxes in the nation, so clearly high income taxes don't produce balanced budgets." They went on to site similar attempts in other states that failed. Dayton is a well meaning 70's style liberal who I think is in over his head. For someone who has lived his entire life off of a trust fund, he has little understanding of what it means to earn money, and to keep it. I support the Legislature in standing up to an out of control Governor.

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