Recently, Congressional Republicans, led by Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, had carts of beer brought into the Capitol after the Repeal and Replace vote. A quick swig, a drive (ahem) to the White House, a photo-op, and then…well the Devil is in the details, right? By the time people actually read the bill, Republican priorities seemed clear: a redistribution of wealth from the poor and middle class to the rich. Actual healthcare policy? Meh. Here in Minnesota, the beer is on ice but the budget is stalled. The Party of Trump is doing what they do best: insult their opponents, try to intimidate, threaten, stomp their feet, huff and puff, then act amazed, appalled, and saddened when the Governor and most of the state doesn’t want to play their game.
Governor Dayton has led the state from a $6 billion deficit to a $2 billion surplus and deserves our thanks and gratitude for defending the needs of Minnesotans and the environment.
Election night was hardly over before we heard an oldie but a goodie from the newly-elected Republicans in Minnesota: Tax Breaks! Rebate! It’s not the government’s money! It belongs to the people! Give it back!
We’ve heard this tune before. I’ll skip any discussion of the fiscal disasters that became Kansas, Wisconsin and nearly every other state that slashes taxes, then crosses their fingers (hint: it’s not good). When it comes to taxes, Republicans simply cannot help themselves: No matter what the budget looks like, no matter how the economy is doing, no matter how many are employed, tax cuts is their golden oldie. For fun, I triple-dog-dare Republicans to publicly state the following: If surpluses mean the taxpayers paid too much, then deficits mean taxpayers paid too little, right? Right?? Go ahead. Go on record promising to raise taxes the next time there’s a budget deficit. I wouldn’t bet on it. Instead, they’ll swagger to the juke box, pop in a quarter and play the Tax Cuts golden-oldie once more.
It’s not the people’s money. We signed up for these taxes by deciding to live here. The budget surplus belongs to the State and I, for one, expect the Minnesota to be smart, careful, and (yes) conservative with that money. That means set some aside for a rainy-day. It means plan for the future through investments in education, infrastructure, and the environment. And, for crying-out-loud, it means taking care of underpaid, understaffed, and overworked employees and agencies so that they can do their job!
But “Government needs to be more efficient and steam-lined!” Yeah, we’ve heard that song, before, too. Answer me this: Which parts of which agencies? How, exactly, can they improve efficiencies without compromising their mission? Go ahead, explain. We’re all ears. There’s no Liberal on Earth who doesn’t appreciate a well-run, smooth, efficient, bureaucracy, so we’ll jump right on board as soon as you tell us exactly what you mean. Please explain to DNR enforcement how they can do their jobs with a shortage of 26 officers. Please explain to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency how their staff is under-worked. Please explain to the University of Minnesota and MNSCU systems why their tuitions should rise. Please explain to school districts across the state (especially poor ones) why they should have 40 kids in a classroom.
Or, this: Explain to Minnesotans why they should pay appallingly-high premiums and deductibles while you are cutting taxes. Oh, you took care of that? No you didn’t. You re-arranged the pieces on the board. Until I hear “All Minnesotans are guaranteed (guaranteed!) affordable premiums and deductibles, then you didn’t do squat.
There is work to do here, and we have the money to do it. Minnesota, in case anyone needs the reminder, has some of the healthiest, best-educated, happiest people in the country. We have abundant outdoor recreation and vibrant arts communities. We have a rock-solid economy. Exactly none of these things were created through tax cuts. Minnesota did not become great through slashing essential Government. We became great because we spend wisely and act collectively. There is still work to do. The smart investment of our dollars—and of this surplus—is how we will continue to grow, prosper, and flourish as a State. Minnesota is great because we are progressive. Minnesota is great because we are Liberal. That is why people are not moving away from our state. It’s why they are coming here.
Hey Wisconsin: hold our beer.