In the face of a $6.2 billion budget deficit, Minnesota’s new governor, Mark Dayton, is calling for increased spending on K-12 education, all-day kindergarten, and infrastructure repairs. And to think they called Rudy Perpich, “Governor Goofy.” Dayton apparently traces Minnesota’s current problems to potholes and overcrowded classrooms. He is quoted in the Minneapolis Tribune last Thursday as attributing the source of money to balance the budget, plus provide all this fresh funding, to be “successful businessmen and women and other wealthy Minnesotans.”
He wants a billion dollar bonding bill passed to put “28,000 Minnesotans back to work and make badly needed infrastructure repairs across the state.” Perhaps Governor Dayton was out in Washington D.C. being a Senator when Minnesota passed two major infrastructure funding measures, the last quite recently, following the I-35W bridge collapse. If Minnesota is still plagued with potholes he should launch an investigation as to what became of that money. Then he might attempt to explain how all-day kindergarten and more dough thrown at K-12 education will do anything but provide a fresh shower of tax dollars on the teachers’ unions.
Dayton, like President Obama, has no experience of actual work in the real world and therefore no rudimentary economic understanding. For instance, those of us who run businesses or work at jobs in the private sector, the real world, know from painful experience that if you spend money you don’t have, or borrow what you can’t pay back, you go broke. We know that going broke is very, very, bad. They don’t seem to.
Neither one understands that businesses which are stressed cannot recover if robbed of working capital. The money Dayton thinks he can have for nothing from “successful business men and women,” isn’t just sitting there in piles doing nothing. It is funding jobs and growth; in a bad economy there is not enough of it. The old money that the Governor is familiar with, which actually does sit around in idle piles, is mobile and can easily leave a punitive tax environment. Dayton, like Obama, thinks he can better use that money than the people who earned it. The trillion dollar failed stimulus package proves them dead wrong.
U.S. citizens now owe the money and the economy still lags. Minnesota citizens will hold the bag similarly for the billion dollar Dayton bonding bill. We have seen how this works. Dayton promises to transform the way government operates in Minnesota, but simply proposes more of the same taxing and spending beyond our means. In the meantime, the new legislature passed a truly transformative $900 million budget cut, which the Governor vetoed. He claims it will trigger a $428 million property tax increase out in the hinterlands.
That presumes that local governments share his bad judgement and fundamental ignorance of economic matters, which will of course be true in many areas. It is good to have crucial decisions on taxing and spending made closer to home where citizens can keep a close eye on things.
Late last year we had a taste of that here in Winona city government when a 4.6% increase in the city levy was proposed in these hard times. There were just two votes in opposition, by Deb Salyards and outgoing Councilman Tim Breza, who outlined, in a few simple steps, a no increase budget which included a 10% cut in council pay. The rest of the council members looked away in embarassed silence, as if he had audibly broken wind. I would love to see that discussion reopened.