The governor is making one of his rare visits to Minnesota Public Radio today (in the old days, Midday was able to get a sitting governor to come in once a month).
This is the pre-game show for the big bomb that he'll deliver on Tuesday when he announces cuts in the state budget. He had an article in yesterday's Star Tribune op-ed section. Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to read it. Besides, everything I've heard coming out of the Capitol up to now, I've heard a thousand times before. The DFLers are saying the usual things the DFL says, the GOP is saying the usual things the GOP says, and the governor has been saying the usual things the governor says.
Despite the initial talk of bipartisanship at the Capitol, both sides are girding, obviously, for a last-week-of-the-session "solution" to what ails us. A few weeks ago, a friend of mine who occupies a position of some power in a state agency told me they're already preparing for a special session.
So I'm live-blogging and let me know if you hear anything new. Anywhere.
11:07 a.m. Gary asks for a sneak preview. "There's nothing surprising in it," the governor said, noting it'll have to change in a few weeks since the February forecast will change things, and the state doesn't know how the bailout package is going to shake out. "It'll be a good start," he said.
11:09 a.m. - The governor says the two-year budget since Gov. Elmer Andersen has increased 19 percent on average. "That is not sustainable," he said. He says the world is not the same as 20 years ago and Minnesota needs to look at that landscape. It needs to find out where our competitive advantage is, he said.
11:11 a.m. - Why no tax increases? "Even Barack Obama isn't threatening to raise taxes now," the governor said.
11:12 a.m. - The governor didn't answer Gary's question about whether he'll veto any tax increase or whether there's room for negotiation, saying only that Minnesota has become less competitive for business.
11:13 a.m. - Does cutting corporate taxes send the wrong message to people who are going to be losing services? Gov. Pawlenty said it's a move for the future and business has said Minnesota is too expensive to do business in. He talks about publicly subsidized health care programs (note: He needs to begin making a distinction here on what he's talking about. MinnesotaCare, is a publicly subsidized health care program which is paid for by a tax on health care providers. The governor has regularly used a surplus in the fund to balance the budget)
Q: What can local governments expect (local government aid?)
A: Less money. "That's just a function of the budget crisis."
Q: How can Minnesota keep good educators here?
A: Our school system is outdated. The governor will propose a 5-percent increase in the general education formula and a 2-percent increase in the per-pupil formula. But it will be tied to performance.
Q: Will most school districts end up with more money?
A: Yes. Schools will be required to use Q-comp
During a discussion about business, the governor said, "If we don't get serious about making this a better place for business.... we're going to be in deeper trouble."
This brings up a question we've kicked around before: Why would a business want to do business here? It's cold, for one thing. What is it about Minnesota, under any scenario, that makes it a place businesses -- big businesses with lots of jobs -- would want to reside?
Q: What's your timetable for tuition caps for higher education?
A: "We should force the systems to not force whatever challenge they face onto the students," the governor said. He said the schools will "squeal about it." He said there should be a pay freeze for higher education employees. Beyond that, he didn't answer the question from the caller.
This just in... related to the economy:
Hennepin County Medical Center will eliminate almost 100 jobs by the end of February. The medical center is also freezing capital spending that does not have a binding contract to purchase or construct in place. Approximately 80 percent of the jobs to be eliminated are currently vacant, but the remainder of the cuts will be a combination of layoffs and reduced hours.
The cuts are necessary to deal with the governor's unallotment reduction of $73 million in state Health and Human Services funding announced Dec. 19. Of that, more than 15 percent - $12 million - comes directly from funding to support care and teaching at Hennepin County Medical Center, including a $5 million cut to Medical Assistance supplemental payments for providing care to the poor, and a $7 million reduction in medical education payments to help offset the costs of training residents and medical students. When combined with the $7 million lost due to rate reductions and rebasing delays approved during the 2008 legislative session, the total loss in state funding is $19 million for 2008 and 2009.
-- News release from Hennepin County Medical Center
Q: How has accounting "gimmicks" you used in 2003 affect us today?
A: As a percent, the deficit was comparable to what we're facing now. A big chunk of '03 was spending "cuts." Many people refer to cuts as a lack of a spending increase. "If you listen to my critics, you'd think we took a blow-torch to the budget." He says the reality is we only slowed increases.
Let's hit the Wayback Machine on that one:
"Tim Pawlenty has taken a chainsaw to that budget, and trimmed off all of the waste in the Minnesota budget. He is truly one of the rising stars in our party," he said.
That was the head of the king-making "Club for Growth" during the Republican National Convention in 2004. The governor did nothing to indicate that he really didn't cut the budget but only cut the rate of spending increases.
Q: What happens to the people who'll be cut off from programs.
A: In some cases they'll be shifted to other programs, but not always. The governor says they'll be dropped but that's the way it is.
Q: Any hope the federal government will be able to control health care costs?
A: We've made some progress in Minnesota. The essence of it is you can't have people going to consume health care without knowing the cost, and then submitting the bill.
From the comments section, a small business owner writes:
Being able to write off a 6001 lb pickup or SUV in 1 year instead of 3-5 years is absolutely no help to a business owner who is laying off employees and has seen traffic and business drop 50% in the last 3 months. Tax cuts have been a proven failure since Reagan came up with this nonsense 30 years ago. The Republicans need to come up with a new mantra, this one is worn out and no one is buying it any more. this state has coasted on investments made in the 60's, 70's and 80's and now we are paying the price.
11:46 p.m. - The governor says the transportation taxes increase and the increase in the sales tax for outdoors program didn't involve him. He says critics shouldn't be clamoring for tax increases because the taxes have increased.
Q: Even food shelves are having difficulty taking care of people coming through the door, and people need social service programs more than ever. People can't get jobs or if they can get them, they don't pay enough. What about child care assistance programs?
A: There's a whole array of "really good programs," the governor said, "and the need always exceeds the resources." He says the obligation is first to balance the budget and then provide for people in need, and then provide for the future. "Our listeners have to come to understand the magnitude of the challenge we face. It would be nice to keep things the way it is, but we can't."
Aside: I was just looking to see if the governor's bodyguard is around. Didn't see him, but someone must be driving the big, black Suburban that's parked out back. In the Ventura days, the guy used to sit right outside the studio, as if a would-be assassin would bust in at any moment.
Q: It's disturbing to see non-profits laying off workers on top of cuts in health and human services. Where are the funds going to come from and how are people to be served?
A: To some degree, they won't and some people won't be served. "We have to prioritize. The world and the economy has changed and it's changed dramatically. You cannot expect the government to carry on as it was."
Aside: Politicians, and not just Pawlenty, are telling us, basically, that some people are going to have to suffer and suffer a lot. That said, how will we be expected to change? The kids stay in the home longer? Parents moving in with kids more often? We're really talking about a cultural change in America now and nobody wants to acknowledge it. There really is no hope on the way and that's the reality of the lack of confidence by Americans. The feeling is that America's best days are behind it, and you will have a lower standard of living. Isn't that today's message?
Q: When will you announce whether you'll see re-election?
A: In the coming months. (Well, yeah, that's rather obvious since the election is in "the coming months.")
What part of republican policies have been successful over the past 8 years? Your deregulation and tax cuts put us where we are right now, and you enabled the amazing greed and graft that have destroyed our economy. I wonder if Richard Fuld will sell me one of his other properties for $100? How about you, guv, will you sell me a multi-million dollar property for $100? Your party has perfected callousness and corruption.
In your state of the state address you used the example of a family sitting at their kitchen table discussing current economic conditions. With the very recent report out by the Minnesota Housing Partnership regarding the increase demand for shelter and 1 in 8 families payoing more than 50 percent of their income towards a house payment. Who do you anticpate to address this growing problem?
Maybe the absentee governor should have been here in the state addressing this mess the last 6 years instead of running for national office at our expense. Maybe he should have come up with real solutions instead of implementing the 'no new taxes' (read more fees and local property taxes) policy so he could have some political ad taglines for his run for president in 2012. All this from a flim flam man whose mandate is based on a 21,000 vote landslide because Judy Dutcher didn't know what E85 was. The emperor has no clothes.
What evidence do you have for business tax cuts
creating jobs? In a bad economy they will sock it away or go to Florida to retire.
In the past, businesses have been willing to pay the taxes that we've imposed on them. They must have had some reason for being willing and interested in doing so for the right to do business here. Why did they do that, and what has changed? We have always been a high-tax state and there have always been lower-tax states with better climates, but businesses still chose to locate here. There is an issue that is deeper than taxes here. What is it?
As a small business owner I can tell you that 'accelerated business write offs' which are what these tax cut proposals consist of are completely worthless in a time of zero consumer spending and zero lending. Being able to write off a 6001 lb pickup or SUV in 1 year instead of 3-5 years is absolutely no help to a business owner who is laying off employees and has seen traffic and business drop 50% in the last 3 months. Tax cuts have been a proven failure since Reagan came up with this nonsense 30 years ago. The Republicans need to come up with a new mantra, this one is worn out and no one is buying it any more. this state has coasted on investments made in the 60's, 70's and 80's and now we are paying the price. Literally. Impeach this clown already.
Gary ASK him how tax cuts are going to generate the revenue we need to solve a $5B shortfall in the immediate future!
It makes no sense!
Raising taxes will not stimulate the state economy. It can't by definition. Unlike the federal govt, the state can only raise funds in two ways. It can remove them from the private sector (through taxes) or issue bonds.
Raising taxes results in no net change in money in the state hence no new demand. It only changes how existing money is spent.
Bonds can add new money to the state if the buyers of the bonds is out of state. However, the buyers of the bonds end up not having the money in their local economies (since it's in ours). If the buyer is also a US resident, you've again added no net money to the economy.
The only real solution is for the fed to add to net demand by running deficits. Govt deficits add to private savings (has to by definition).
Cutting services for Seniors is wrong. How to you except them to live. They can't go get a job. Are you putting them out on the street.
I keep hearing about "new ideas" and "thinking differently" and "nothing is sacred."
My question is, why aren't these concepts true in technology for education?
I organized a group of high school students and they polled an area high school grades 9-12. We learned that 40% admitted either not having an office suite (required to do homework) at home or they had stolen it.
So we have worked at getting people to use high quality, legal, and free open source software like OpenOffice.org which works on ALL platforms (Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, etc...) and many people view as superior.
I've met with an assistant education commissioner to ask how can we promote this around the state... They agree.
but do nothing.
This would LOWER costs, IMPROVE education, and take a stand against illegal software piracy which is something that is just hush-hush accepted. In my opinion, this is a serious issue and there is no time like the present to start teaching adults how this can accomplish all three points above.
Stop software stealing by students trying to do homework.
I can demonstrate how this can be community - level organized and sustained and how the benefits can and will spread beyond the school and into the community.
During these times of tough desicions should legislators sign lockin pledges to The tax payer alliance the special interest group. that says legislators will not think but only do what that special interst group tells them. It seems the republicans are being directed by this special interest group.
If you cut businesses taxes and also LGA, you will create cities that no business will want to come to. The December slash of LGA already took away any of the cuts that can be made without changing quality of life within these cities.
Take away the cap on local property taxes and allow local option sales tax for you are creating cities that its citizens do not want. The state no longer creates fair and equal financing for cities.
I have only been listening since 11:45 but I am already sick of hearing him say "historic, dramatic, quantum".
No wonder Pawlenty loves coming on NPR, he gets a free ride every time. It's like a slow pitch softball game. Lob me another question I can tap dance around. I can't imagine what the gov's Friday radio show is like. I haven't had the stomach to even try finding out what crazy right wing nut-job station it's on.
He was on MPR. He wasn't on NPR.
Has the Gov explained how he'll pay for tax cuts?
A real question: is it time to reevaluate our entire tax system; perhaps throwing it out entirely and establishing new budgetting practices that better tie stable revenue sources to the services we expect the state gov't to deliver with a smile?
1.It's been said in the past that we attracted corporations to MN because of our high level of education and "work ethic" here.
2. Why are the poorest always the ones who have to feel the belt tightening? The guv says some people won't be served - we all know that there are ways to ensure that the poor are taken care of and it starts with compassion which is followed up with those who have more doing their fair share and more.
3. How do you implement outcome based pay in the frequent situation where the individual teacher has both high and low achieving students in their class? Which carries more weight?
The governor has tried to say we drive businesses away because of high taxes. He does not offer anymore proof for that. We will sometimes lose businesses and sometimes gain businesses. We are not like the rust bucket states that have lost a lot to the south.
Study after study shows that the ability to attract good workers is much more important. In most cases good workers come from good education. There was a study done in Pennsylvania that show if school districts work together they could get significant savings to plow back into the classroom. Check out the study on this website.
Think if we could get the whole state to do this together how much could be saved. Much of this is between 4 or 5 districts alone. Then we could invest a lot more in schools without spending more money.
Part of the reason we keep having the same discussion on taxes is because we're always looking for a single boogeyman. If business is bad,it must be because of taxes.
A much more likely scenario is that it's a combination of things and, yes, taxes is one of them.
But we are in a "give no quarter" environment where the political parties. They simply won't give an inch toward the other side.
DFLers say, there needs to be a strategy that involves raising some taxes. GOPers say there needs to be a strategy that involves lowering some taxes.
Based only on those two statements, it's illogical to expect common ground. But based on the complexity of our tax system -- and the complexities of economics -- it's illogical to think there isn't.
Me thinks Mr. Pawlenty will be working in private industry by January 2011.
The Minnesota business tax rate hasn't changed in quite a while--at least 10 years. During that time, Minnesota has gone from having a higher job creation rate than the national average to having a lower job creation rate than the national average.
What else has changed?
Even Amy Klobuchar on Midday Tuesday admitted on air "I like to end with a softball"!
I rest my case. On 'M'-PR.
Another politician great at the rhetoric, though not as razor sharp and focused as Mr. Pawlenty's drivel.
....reminds me of a truck driver I met on the Iron range last week who, after years of living in a rolled up newspaper in the passing lane of 169 just 3 miles south of Keewatan, has just lost his house, job, healthcare, his wife and kids......
Unfortunately Minnesota effectively has NO senators now, not just one.
Instead of asking babbling callers "what's your question? we're running out of time" Gary should ask the studio 'guest' "[guest] what's your answer!"