The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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July 30, 2013

DFL's need to spend hurts taxpayers

Fred Slocum says GOP anti-tax hurts a wide variety of people. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Slocum is an Minnesota State University employee, which might affect his view on why government spending is so wonderful. Slocum’s letter might leave one with the impression that government spending will save the world.

Unfortunately, Slocum conveniently forgets facts. The 2011-2012 GOP-controlled Legislature put forward a balanced budget (programs for disabled and the poor were protected and not “slashed” as Slocum falsely suggests) as required by law. Gov. Mark Dayton insisted on higher taxes and spending and in the process chose to shut the state down. Shutting down government when a balanced budget was passed is not the Legislature’s fault; Gov. Dayton owns the shutdown.

Historically, Minnesota education finance policy has included a 90-10 school shift — 90 percent sent to schools with remaining 10 percent sent the next fiscal year. In 2011 negotiations Dayton asked for a 50/50 split; the Legislature negotiated back to a 60/40 split. In 2012 the Republican Legislature passed a bill to pay back the “school shift” done in 2011. Dayton vetoed.

For those that believe in taxing and spending at all costs one should ask this question: At what point does the government take a high enough percentage of taxpayers’ money? When families, taxpayers and businesses downsized during the recession, government would not hear of comparable downsizing.

The 2011-2012 GOP-controlled Legislature protected programs for disabled adults and the poor. Government spending was slowed, not massive cuts instituted. Forecasted general fund spending was over $39 billion for 2012-13 and was $39.7 billion for 2014-15, compared to $30.2 billion in 2010-11. The budget that passed totaled $33.96 billion in FY2012-13 and $36.56 billion in spending in FY2014-15[1]. So while Mr. Slocum states this is a cut, it is actually a slowing of the rate of spending, not a “cut.”

Perhaps Slocum should address if tuitions at state colleges and universities are rising because of lack of state funding? The Republicans proposed a tuition freeze that Gov. Dayton and the DFL balked at but now take credit for doing the same this year. But that won’t stop student’s bills from going up as emphasized by a Minnesota Daily article: “Despite freeze, fees increase.[2]” 

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