Wednesday, June 29, 2005
Bad Bad Bad
It appears that the Minnesota state government will be shutting down after tomorrow. This is bad, it will hurt a lot of citizens in our state. The DFL abandoned it's idea for raising the highest bracket income taxes as it became clear that it would not work. This demonstrated to the citizens of minnesota that the DFL is willing to give up there goals to work for the civility of the state and not causing harm to it's citizens. The party also had the good sense to draw a line in the sand, and not compromise their core values in order to have a quick fix to the budget. The republicans are currently holding the budget hostage with forcing the Democrats to agree to a piece of radical cultural reform legisation. I doubt the shutdown will last very long because it's going to make the government look bad. Especially governor Pawlenty who is up for re-election next year. Jon has a great citizen's perspective on the issue.
After a day and a half of intense negotiations, talks among top Republican and DFL leaders broke down late this morning, with House Speaker Steve Sviggum announcing that Minnesotans should brace themselves for a partial government shutdown starting Friday.
"Citizens, like legislators, have to prepare themselves mentally," Sviggum said, after a nearly two-hour meeting with DFLers ended. "It's not the right thing to do, it's not a good thing to do, but you don't want to be just shocked by what is going to happen tomorrow night, either."
Talks ended when Gov. Tim Pawlenty insisted anew that DFlers choose from a list of "reforms" before he would agree to a budget deal.
Senate Majority Leader Dean Johnson, DFL-Willmar, said he and House Minority Leader Matt Entenza, DFL-St. Paul, were told they could select from a list that included initiative and referendum, a taxpayer's bill of rights, a ban on school-year teacher strikes, a voucher-type plan that would allow at least some children to attend private schools with taxpayer money, unicameral legislature and the racino, among others.
Johnson said he and Entenza left the meeting to discuss privately "what meaningful reform is," and to possibly come up with their own versions of reform.
Sviggum told reporters that Pawlenty's insistence on systemic change was reasonable.
"Government has to be more than just how much more you can spend and how much you can tax," he said.
DFLers made their last major concession on Tuesday, when they finally dropped their bid to increase income taxes on the state's wealthiest 40,000 residents.
In return, they had asked that Republicans withdraw their proposal for a racino _ slots at Canterbury Park racetrack _ that is anathema to DFL leaders, who prefer to reserve gaming for Indian tribes.
On Wednesday, Johnson said Republicans were still pushing racino, "but they're talking about it less."