No Sign Of Breakthrough As Minn. Faces $5B Deficit

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Top legislative Republicans and Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton remain divided on how to fix a $5 billion deficit as the legislative session enters its final four weeks.

Legislative leaders embarked on a statewide tour Monday from St. Paul to push their plan to eliminate the budget gap without state tax increases. Dayton was interviewed on Minnesota Public Radio, where he talked up his proposal to raise taxes on top earners.

Both sides are claiming public support while criticizing each other.

House Speaker Kurt Zellers says Dayton’s tax plan would hurt the middle class, while Dayton says Republicans are hiding the pain of spending cuts by using calculations not approved by his administration.

The governor and legislative leaders are scheduled to meet over breakfast Tuesday as lawmakers return from a weeklong break.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

  • johnny

    Wow, create a five billion dollar mess and take a week off. sweet gig, how do I get a gig like that?

    • brent

      They should have a bake sale at the capitol for a fundraiser.

  • SR

    The state House and Senate should NOT get paid for an extra session. Even better yet, how about THEY take a cut in pay???

    • DevilDog3249

      Neither should the executive branch.

  • Alan

    Both sides need to quite their game playing and get to work. The republicans and the governor both have to realize no one is going to win. Thus far the legislature has only had motions that hurt Democratic areas while doing nothing to their base and ignored the governors requests. The bull crap has to stop.

  • James

    Same two parties that monopolize by law, and we get the same old story. Madatory pensions, wasted money on prohibition, etc… all of which are killing us, but pass the litmus test to be a real legislator. UGH!

  • John

    those who advocate raising taxes to cover the deficit should know that the wealthiest people in Minnesota do not make enough to cover the cost. Taxes are levied on income not assets. Someone might be a billionaire but may take home say $100 million dollars per year. If you taxed at 100% (which is not reasonable but for this example might be helpful) we would need 500 Minnesotans who make that much. We would then need to take it all and leave them with zip. Minnesota does not have enough people who make enough money to do that. Ok; so raise corporate taxes. Well then we have a problem of Companies and individuals who can leave because like it or not we still have freedom of movement in our society. Please tell me Mr. Governor why it is unreasonable to roll back State spending to say 2008 levels or even earlier and commit ourselves to being sane? What happens next year if we don’t cut the amount of spending? What most taxpayers would like to see is reason on both sides of the aisle, comparable tax rates vs. other Midwestern States, pro jobs policies and less government spending in the quest for votes at the ballot box.

    • TiredOfHandoutstoWealthy

      You don’t know what you are talking about. Dayton is not only proposing taxes to fix the budget. It’s a mix of new taxes plus cuts in government programs – including eliminating government jobs. And if you check out what most economists say – you can neither tax your way out of the problem nor will cuts alone eliminate the problem. The problem with going back to 2008 levels is that some of the largest parts of the state budget are education (which as Dayton keeps pointing out we will have a significantly larger number of students in the next biennium and probably even larger number from the 2008 budget). The other big part of the budget is health care – which costs keeps growing so we can’t go back. The state (& Federal govt) have to take care of more people since too many businesses do not provide health care or adequate wages and these businesses make profits on the backs of us taxpayers that are taking care of their employees.. So, yes, many of those at the top should pay more!

    • shwiehl

      Here’s the problem with rolling back the spending. Unless energy companies, food companies, and oil and gas companies agree to roll back their rates to 2008 levels, schools will continue to lose funding even it’s kept constant. When all of those costs rise, the same money coming in won’t cover it. I think what people want is a balanced approach. They will need to cut spending and raise taxes. That is the only way this will get balanced. As for rich people leaving the state, when the same argument is used that teachers will leave the profession due to pay cuts, no one on your side of the aisle seems to care. But talk about the rich sharing the pain a little and suddenly they are all going to leave.

      • hoskerdoo

        Shwiehl – when the cost of things like energy or food, what do you do in your personal life? You adjust – take care of necesities first and if anything is left, use it for the extra’s. Same thing for the government. I doubt that you would approach your wealthy neighbor and ask him to finance your next vacation because you were a little short in the budget.

  • Can't resolve debt but will stick us with a stadium!

    No resolution of our $5 billion debt but I’ll bet you the proverbial dollar to a hole in a donut they’re gonna take the time to find a way to stick the taxpayers with a new stadium.

    And for the die hard fans who will erroneously cry “but only the users will have to pay,” I say NOT TRUE … read the bill! The proposal calls for various tax increases for the community where the stadium is built. PLUS, read the MN Dept. of Revenue report on those so-called user taxes – they produce virtually NO REVENUE at all! It’s going to be coming from the taxpayers … guaranteed!

  • Reasonable Person

    Tax property owned by churches, and property being used as Apartments and dorms by private schools. Cut H&H Services budget – largest portion of MN budget. Toll stations for 94 near the WI border. Toll stations for 35 near IA border. Get rid of pensions for elected state gov’t positions.

  • Dave Campbell

    The GOP campaigned on promises to balance the budget and create jobs. So far they have done nothing to accomplish either one. I read a report from a CFO of one of the major metropolitan health care providers that says they will loose almost 300 full time jobs if the house budget gets passed. By the time they get around to creating all of those jobs they promised, we won’t even be able to get back to where we are now! Governor Dayton’s staff was still working while the legislature was on vacation!

  • Norge

    Fire every state union worker and outlaw the unionization of public workers. Those who feed at the public trough have no moral or ethical right to demand that the taxpayer fill the trough to workers satisfaction. All public employees are under a 24/7/365 invitation to take their talents to the private sector. Public benefits should be no higher then the lowest benefits in the private sector. How can you justify taxing people without a retiremement program to finance some public employees golden parachute? Dayton is an idiot as reflected by his Senate career…best bet just shut it down for the summer, 5 billion saved… can’t spend a ZERO.

    • TiredOfHandoutstoWealthy

      The lowest paying benefits in the private sector is minimum wage and no benefits – so it seems you would like to put all public employees on welfare! And they would end up paying no taxes if that was true. That’s a great savings and boost the economy???!!! If private business would simply pay adequate wages and benefits to their employees, we would not have this problem. The biggest government cost is health care. And if everyone had a decent wage, we would be getting more income tax from everyone and very likely solve this deficit problem. It’s the private businesses that are feeding at the public trough. They let the taxpayers take care of their employees while their stockholders and top management make big wages…..

    • Walker

      If you compare public jobs to private jobs on a job by job comparison with benefits the public sector jobs do not pay more than private jobs. Your comment is as narrow minded as they get. No state troopers, no road maintenance, no basic services, nothing. You may chose to stay at home and do nothing. You may chose to work at a job with no benefits. Use one of the sliding scale agencies to discuss your unreasonable anger that the state has employees, but if you don’t use something that has been provided with the state’s assistance you may have a difficult time getting there.

    • Ali

      Thanks you norge.
      A little overboard but you got the right idea. Of course any opposition to your post will come from one of the feeders who think that their government job creates someting. Nope it does not and most likley we could do with out it.
      And what about my rights to keep what I earn and not have it all taxed to the point where I can not have a retirement pension like the lavish life time infaltion protected government union workers have that is by the way …unfunded.

      • old nurse

        Oversight agencies are created because of problems in history. Ali and Norge have no concept of that. How the heck would have they gotten down the freeway this winter without a state worker. They just see a dollar sign and not think where the money get spent. The portion of the state money that is the largest is the health and human services budget. The majority of that money goes to pay for nursing home patients and the disabled. Please tell us what to do with that population with no funding.

  • John Q Public

    Up yours Norge. I earn every penny that your miserly, moth infested coin purse disgorges at tax time. Further, I have no interest in losing benefits that I have fought for and deserve. That fact that the private sector has taken away those same benefits from private sector workers is testimony to how big business is trying to turn our democracy into a feudal fiefdom of the rich. If that’s your idea of America, I don’t want any part of it and I’ll fight for what’s right, never for who is on the “right”.

    • James

      Please let me know when I can vote on a raise that the private sector pays. And what you pay in taxes is really what the private sector pays your first.. So in a technical sense, you get a cut in pay but not taxed. Next, since you work for a monopoly, that mandates your pensions, et. al. there is no struggle. If the private sector is losing unions, it because they price themselves out of business just like the govt is bankrupting us. It’s not right nor left, it’s that we are broke and promises that have been made can’t be kept. Sorry.

      • Curtis

        Your comment makes little sense. There is nothing in this article about people and raises. Any wage decrease is not going to be 5 billion. Your comments about struggle would suggest you have never worked a t a job that requires education. Flawed logic on the union thing. By occupation government workers are paid less.There is also the notion that the budget is mostly wages. I can’t quickly find figures but I would doubt your claim.

    • Roger from Rogers

      Neither feudal fiefdom nor communism has survived very long so I would stick to what has worked the best in the world and that is what we have. We can only have so many people on the public private sector dime and it can only cost so much. We just need to control it, maybe we need a cap on the percentage of public to private jobs and obviously cap the payout.

      • Gordon

        Fall of Rome was before 500, Dark ages ended about 1100. The fiefdom ended only when another army took over.

    • Dave Campbell

      Well said JQP!

  • Dave Campbell

    Perhaps if we give big business more tax breaks, we will see more jobs created. That has worked so well for us in the past! All of our tax breaks for the big corporations have just been used to give big bonuses to CEO’s

  • Reasonable

    What shocks me as that it’s always one or the other, cut spending to barebone levels that will provide no services, or increase taxes. What’s wrong with half of both? Let’s cut discretionary spending by 10% and increase taxes by 5%. Every 7 years this will result in essentially a “free year” that reduces the debt level and serves as a long-term defecit reduction solution.
    It’s really disturbing that KTLK has convinced some people that every penny of taxes collected goes to some single black mother on welfare. It’s simply not true but the distortion is repeated often enough that it starts to become clear.

  • HooDatIS?


    • Kate

      what does bachman have to do with state politics. she is a us rep, more hate from the left very little sense.

      • Carlos

        do you call the people on the right for their hate?

  • Dan from Inver Grove

    here is an idea…..state should sell advertising on all sound retaining walls,bridge decks. It will create some rev. what do you think?

  • Citizen

    So, House Speaker Kurt Zellers says that Dayton’s tax paln would hurt the middle class? Is this the same Kurt Zellers who thought voting was a privilege and not a right guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution? The man hasn’t a clue! All he does is spin with little or no credibility. Just one smoke screen after another as the GOP tries to mobillize the bottom 40% to vote to keep the top 1 to 2″ of the wealthy happy and well-funded with plenty of tax breaks.

  • MARK

    I assume that the best solution is a little bit of both–higher taxes and lowered spending. But in our very partisan political climate, it seems almost impossible for a Democrat to say “cut spending,” and just as impossible for a Republican to say “raise taxes.”

  • John Q Public

    You’d think the “Tea Party” followers would have learned by now that their entire movement has been financed by the likes of the Koch brothers for the sole purpose of driving down the incomes of the middle, protecting and enhancing mechanisms of wealth, stripping away regulations that protect workers and the environment and controlling the government through its incredible lobbying and nearly unrestricted funding of candidates and third party attack ads.

    It is going to be so much fun to watch when they finally wake up and the stuff hits the fan. Hope it’s soon.

    • Paul

      what color is the sky in your world?

      • Jerome

        ? Refute what he says,. Come up with something. Blue is the color until the stuff hits the fan.

  • LeAnn

    According to the Star Tribune, $37 million was spent on overtime last year by the State of MN. Make it a mandatory policy of zero overtime and hire sufficient staff for temporary or on-call to fill in when needed, like other privately run companies do. Furthermore, consider unemployed people for these positions, and you may save another $37 million. So there’s a little we could cut off the budget right there without any cuts to valuable services, and at the same time JOBS would be created, that should have been filled long ago!

    • Citizen of Minnesota

      @LeAnn. First, of all overtime laws are federal laws enforced by the U.S. Dept. of Labor. You seem to be laboring under the misconception that the public’s work is simple and requires only a temp worker to do it. Not so at all. Many public jobs are sensitive and the employee requires some sort of background check before employment. Do you want just anyone privy to all the tax and financial data the state handles for its citizens? I didn’t think so. Public jobs are different than private jobs. if you knew about the differences, or ever worked in the public sector, you wouldn’t have written such a dumb post.

      • LeAnn

        Citizen, I did not say to ignore federal law regarding overtime, nor to skip doing background checks. And, in fact, if you think that is the only job that requires a background check, you are pretty naive. I said hire more people (on call, temporary, seasonal, whatever it takes) instead of paying out overtime. I have worked for the state, but I’ll try not to stoop to your level of post.

        • Nigel

          Was the overtime spent doing essential service like snowplowing or state patrol? You probably don’t know. Temporary and on call still cost money to hire and train. Without a steady check would someone stick around? Costing more training time.Temporary to layoff= more expenses. Part time people= paying more benefits.

          • LeAnn Santana

            No Nigel, unfortunately the figures were not broken down by service, and even if there were essential services performed, why can’t a newly hired person perform those services? Hiring and training still costs less than paying overtime, because overtime is at 1.5 times the rate of pay vs. at regular pay. It is my understanding that a person that holds a temporary, on call, or job classified as purely seasonal doesn’t get unemployment. Part time people don’t get as many benefits as full time.

            Look folks, there are private companies out there that have had to live without overtime since as long as I can remember and it’s called good labor cost management. Since the state is spending our money, I think they should be held to the same standards of no overtime. It is quite obvious they should not be running into the overtime situation, because they can’t afford it – WE can’t afford it!

  • Alicia

    2010 census states 43% increase in Mexican population, 1% increase in White population.

    Who do you think is using all of the welfare? The 1% White population with 1 kid per family…or the mexicans/somolians with 8 kids per family?

    Welfare Use by Immigrant Households with Children
    A Look at Cash, Medicaid, Housing, and Food Programs

    # Households with children with the highest welfare use rates are those headed by immigrants from the Dominican Republic (82 percent), Mexico and Guatemala (75 percent), and Ecuador (70 percent). Those with the lowest use rates are from the United Kingdom (7 percent), India (19 percent), Canada (23 percent), and Korea (25 percent).

    # The states where immigrant households with children have the highest welfare use rates are Arizona (62 percent); Texas, California, and New York (61 percent); Pennsylvania (59 percent); Minnesota and Oregon (56 percent); and Colorado (55 percent).

    # We estimate that 52 percent of households with children headed by legal immigrants used at least one welfare program in 2009, compared to 71 percent for illegal immigrant households with children. Illegal immigrants generally receive benefits on behalf of their U.S.-born children.

    • Missy

      Alicia, thank you for posting statistics. It’s very difficult to argue logically, convincingly unless you have evidence to back your argument. It’s nice to see some affective debating here, instead of the common mud-slinging.

    • Patriot

      And WalMart employees, legal or not, use subsidized housing, food stamps, and Medicaid. They qualify for this “welfare” because of WalMart’s low, low wages. Corporate welfare! If companies paid their workers even a tiny, tiny fraction of the wages paid to the corporate CEOs, the U.S. could stop this corporate welfare. Who do you think opened the door for immigration? Most of the presidents since Reagan have been Republicans, and “W’s” brother, Jeb Bush, is married to a Latina. ‘Nuf said…

    • Reasonable

      It seems you already have the cross, I’ll grab the bedsheets and the matches and we can have us a good ol’ rally!

      All your figures prove is that income is dwindling and people are having to seek help from the govt. It’s a fun trick to show “those lazy immigrants coming here for a handout” when the reality is that they work just as hard as anyone else, more often than not even harder since they receive below minimum wages and work with no security or benefits whatsoever…

  • Alicia

    I forgot mention…STOP IMMIGRATION…….
    JOIN they started trying to control immigration in 1990 and were the main group that stopped the last 8 Amnesties for mexicans!

    It’s free.

    • Carlos

      We are a country of immigrants. Ask Clyde Belecourt’s kids. Darned Norwegians had 8 kids back there on the farm.

  • Kevin

    My parents paid taxes so I could go to school. I have no children. I don’t see why in the hell I should have to pay taxes for other people’s kids to go to school.

    This government is all goofed up. For some things they charge fees. For others they charge taxes. And for some of those taxes they are aggressive and some are regressive.

    How about this. Charge everybody for what they use, like they do with gas taxes, sales taxes, etc, and stop sticking taxes down the throats of people who would never approve of all of the wasteful pork belly spending that goes on in this state.

    • old nurse

      The problem is we are taking care of people who have no money, see the money spent on health care.
      Go live on an island by yourself. The school that you did not want to pay for will produce some of the minds that will take care of you, invent the next gadget, be the lawyer who defends you when you are more ignorant.

  • Sue K

    Does the general public realize that some public workers pay their own retirement and over 2/3 of their health insurance?
    Does the public realize that there is an excess of teachers with so many positions being cut because of no money or a lot less?
    Does the public realize that the legislature has set up mandates to IMPROVE education that is funded for a few (2 to 32 generally) and then the taxpayers are suppose to pick up the costs after that from monies that are not increased to cover the costs?
    Does the public realize that in order to fix a $5 billion deficit it will take good number of years not just one or two? WE got into this mess because when our government had money we turned around and sent it back to the taxpayers without any thought of the future. Wow! Smart decision.

  • James

    When government workers became unionized, there were many baby boomers to pay pensions, etc. And the private sector unions were reasonable in cost. Now paying a plumber $275 an hour plus parts is rediculous. So I look for someone else. However, the govt union is a monopoly and I have no choice in the matter. See, the private sector spends what it makes, and the govt spends what it takes. Very simple. Also, lthe govt spends $ on laws it can’t enforce so that should be changed. You can tax vices, not virtues. End prohibition, cut the prison industry, legalize prostitution, vouchers for schools, and change mandated pensions to 401Ks for a start. Sounds crazy but we spend so much on what we can’t and never will be able to enforce by law, or pay for, and everyone thinks they’re entitled to a free lunch. There is no free lunch. At some point we will be bankrupt and unions will be done, and perhaps the rest of us along with.

  • Missy

    Call me simplistic, or even ignorant, but why can’t we make a certain percentage cut to all programs, across the board?

    • Alan

      They are politician playing to their base.

  • M

    Kill lite-rail…….$Half-Billion.
    Cut aid to St. Paul by the extra money Coleman gave to millionaire Cossetta…$2M
    Don’t give money to billionaire Wilf….$One third Billion.
    Cut school aid to any dist. with golded parachutes….$30M.
    Kill the Billion Stillwater Big Bridge & 36 freeway build…$One and a half Billion.
    Increase taxes to the rich & everyone who thinks taxes are good…$Billions.
    Right-size the MN House of Reps. by half….$Priceless.

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