Opinion -- Veto threat leaves us with few options
By Jeanne Poppe
The number one obligation of Minnesota lawmakers this legislative session is to approve a balanced budget for the next two years.
The February budget forecast informed us there is a $6.4 billion shortfall below the 2007-2008 budget. Late last Saturday night, members of the House voted on the Omnibus Tax Bill (H.F. 2323). As I have said I would do, I voted against the House tax bill, because the governor has made it very clear he will veto it.
Without new revenue, cuts will be the path to a balanced budget. Cuts to schools and colleges, cuts to city and county aid, cuts to health care, cuts to public safety and cuts to transportation; the cumulative effect of these cuts is evident by the citizens and organizations who visited my office this session asking to be spared from more cuts.
The results have led to schools living on the edge, and as a result, repeatedly turning to local taxpayers for help. Cities and counties have been forced to cut services and delay improvements. Thousands of Minnesotans have lost their health insurance and more hospitals than ever are on the brink of financial ruin. And, despite the "no new taxes" decree, property taxes have increased by $3.1 billion since 2003 and fees have gone up by over $2 billion.
Whether the governor will admit it or not, taxes have gone up, and services have gone down. Sadly, these tax increases hurt seniors, young families just starting out, and the growing ranks of the unemployed the hardest.
Gov. Pawlenty continues to tell us he won’t raise taxes to solve this budget crisis. So how do we solve the budget problem? Without new revenue, deeper and broader cuts are the only answer. Minnesotans now more than ever are asked to weigh in on the final budget negotiations.
Without the governor’s signature on a tax bill, all Minnesotans can expect fewer public services, higher tuition, hospitals providing less care, fewer police on the streets, a greater squeeze to local school districts.
We are facing the most significant fiscal crisis in decades, and the budget decisions we make this session will have significant consequences for our state. If cuts alone are not the way you expect the state to solve this budget crisis, please contact Gov. Pawlenty to express your concern. If you have other thoughts or comments, I can be reached at (651) 296-4193 via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rep. Jeanne Poppe, DFL-Austin, represents District 27B in the Minnesota House.