State Senator David Tomassoni, DFL-Chisholm, expressed extreme disappointment that Republican lawmakers continue to protect people earning more than a million dollars a year rather than accept a budget compromise to end the government shutdown.
“I am deeply frustrated with the current government shutdown situation,” Sen. Tomassoni said. “Governor Mark Dayton and DFL lawmakers offered as many as seven compromise solutions. Unfortunately, Republicans refused to accept any of the Governor’s offers to compromise on a bipartisan solution. Instead, they chose party ideology over the good of the state and avoided every effort to compromise in the final days before a shutdown.”
Prior to the shutdown, Gov. Dayton and DFL lawmakers offered several compromises, including a major concession that made significant spending cuts and a reduced income tax increase on only millionaires in Minnesota. This offer conceded to many of the Republicans’ requests and would have avoided a shutdown.
The additional revenue generated by this scaled-back offer would have mitigated the most devastating effects of the Republican’s all-cuts budget plan. In contrast, the Republican budget will raise property taxes on Minnesota families by more than $1 billion, take health care away from 140,000 Minnesotans, eliminate 14,000 hospital jobs, make deep cuts to programs that serve the elderly and disabled, and imposes the biggest cuts to colleges and universities in the state’s history.
Unfortunately, Republicans rejected the Governor’s common-sense, balanced offer and responded with a borrow-and-spend counteroffer that uses the state’s credit card again, is only good for one budget cycle, causes the same deficit problem down the road, and is conditional on the passage of an exhaustive list of divisive social issues.
The Republican offer consisted of two big loans: taking $700 million more from Minnesota schools and borrowing from future tobacco settlement payments. This one-time revenue of shifts and gimmicks would have done nothing to fix the state’s long-term funding issues and would have added to the state’s long-term debt. Continuing the Pawlenty policies of borrowing, shifts, and one-time solutions is the principal reason Minnesota’s credit rating was downgraded on July 7. Sen. Tomassoni said, “It’s time to end these continuous deficits and enact permanent solutions that include increased revenues.”
In addition to their borrow-and-spend proposal, the Republicans final offer included a list of more than 25 social policy issues that had nothing to do with solving the budget impasse. Republicans wanted the Governor to sign legislation criminalizing stem cell research, taking money from public schools to fund private school vouchers, and passing the Republican’s partisan election map that would guarantee GOP legislative majorities for the next decade.
“Clearly, Republicans weren’t focused on the budget in the final hours before the state shutdown, but on divisive social issues that have nothing to do with the state’s economy,” Sen. Tomassoni said. “It’s disheartening that Republicans will take it this far to protect 7,700 of their richest friends, 3,800 of whom don’t live in the state, at the expense of the other 5.3 million families, seniors, students and business owners in this state. Millionaires can do without a few bottles of champagne and Derek Jeter can afford to pay a bit more when he plays at Target Field.”
Despite disappointment, Sen. Tomassoni said he will continue working to resolve the state budget deficit so Minnesota can get back to work. “The Governor has offered compromise after compromise but the Republicans continue to just say ‘NO!’” he said. “This is an important debate about what is good for the future of our state, and I am committed to working as hard as possible to find a budget solution that addresses our current deficit and sets the state up for future success.”