Senate Republicans adopt Enron-style accounting in latest budget bill
Ignoring the warnings of Minnesota’s non-partisan finance experts, Republicans in the Minnesota Senate pushed ahead with a State Government budget bill that relies on undocumented and unverifiable budget numbers to plug the state’s budget deficit.
“This is nothing more than Enron-style accounting,” said Sen. Chuck Wiger, DFL-Maplewood, the Senate DFL lead on the State Government Innovation and Veterans Committee. “Republicans are literally making up budget numbers, throwing them on a spreadsheet, and claiming they’ve fixed the deficit. This is not budgeting, it’s guessing.”
The Republican budget plan counts on more than $200 million in budget “savings” that have not been corroborated by any impendent financial analysis. This includes provisions to change the way the state purchases goods, collects debts, and manages state buildings and vehicles.
Republicans have estimated these changes would save over $220 million. Independent analysis from non-partisan finance experts at state agencies determined the provisions would actually only save about $2 million.
Despite the fact non-partisan experts have already invalidated their estimates, Republicans are continuing to book these mythical “savings” in their budget proposal.
“Republicans made up budget numbers, got called on it, and now are just putting their fingers in their ears pretending not to hear the warnings,” said Sen. Wiger. “They’ve finally realized they can’t tackle the $5 billion budget deficit through cuts alone, so they’ve decided to use fantasy accounting to cover their tracks.”
The bill also includes numerous provisions attacking the jobs and benefits of state employees, including:
· A 15% cut to the state’s workforce, which agencies believe will directly impact their ability to complete critical state functions, such as the timely processing of tax returns; and
· Taking away state employees’ affordable health care and replacing it with high-deductible Health Savings Accounts. The provision amounts to a $6,100 a year pay cut for state employees with family coverage.
“This is yet another assault on working families from the Republican majorities in the Minnesota Senate,” said Sen. Wiger. “Republicans are continuing to scapegoat hard-working Minnesotans for the budget challenges facing our state. There is no shared sacrifice in their proposal, just more hurt for middle-class Minnesotans.”