The Free Press, Mankato, MN

August 7, 2013

GOP budgets do indeed entail brutal cuts


---- — Lon Firchau’s July 31 “In Response” column is unhinged from reality on multiple fronts.

On the 2011-12 budget: Gov. Dayton isn’t obligated to sign any Republican budget bill because it’s balanced, but should (and did) accept a compromise (meaning, both sides give some ground). Dayton proposed flexible spending ceilings, and halved his high-income tax increase proposal; throughout the legislative process, Republicans were utterly rigid on both taxes and spending. [1]

Furthermore, the Minnesota Poll (May 15, 2011) found 63 percent favored combined spending cuts and tax increases to balance the budget (Dayton’s position), while 27 percent favored cuts only (the Republican position). Republicans, given their cult-like rigidity on taxes, with no DFL counterpart (i.e. rigid No Spending Cuts pledge) own the 2011 shutdown — and earned their 2012 election losses accordingly.

Programs for the poor and disabled “protected” — Baloney. Republicans proposed to zero out general sssistance funding for disabled adults (many homeless), [2] strip away MinnesotaCare (health care support) for low-income individuals and families and replace it with paltry, uncertain vouchers, [3] and cut myriad children’s programs. [4]

State higher-education funding “up and down” – Very doubtful. The current fetish for cutting state higher-education investments began under (No New Taxes) Gov. Pawlenty and has continued. Since 2008, Minnesota’s inflation-adjusted, per-student state higher education support has dropped 30 percent. [5] And yes, these cuts absolutely relate to No New Tax pledges [6] and skyrocketing tuitions. [7]

The budget changes aren’t cuts — Really? Disabled adults kicked off assistance, students faced with ending higher-education dreams or putting themselves or families under crushing debts, poor children booted from health-care coverage — they and families will experience cuts, nothing less. Firchau’s blindness to the human toll of Republican budget priorities is appalling — but not surprising.

Fred Slocum

Mankato

1 http://mankatofreepress.com/letters/x2137253936/My-View-Today-s-GOP-Right-wing-extremism-hypocrisy-refusal-to-compromise-run-amok.

2 http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2011/05/12/general-assistance.

3 http://www.mnbudgetproject.org/research-analysis/minnesota-budget/proposals-budget-outcomes/tale-of-two-visions, go to “Health and Human Services,” and within it, proposals unique to the legislature’s budget.

4 http://www.cdf-mn.org/multimedia-and-news/news-from-cdf-minnesota/2011/summary-of-2011-budget-impact.html.

5 http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=3927#_ftn11, Figure 1, showing Minnesota’s figure, a decline of 30.4%.

6. http://mankatofreepress.com/letters/x243091165/GOP-anti-tax-hurts-poor-disabled-seniors-students

7 http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=3927#_ftn11; go to the section below Figures 1 and 2,