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Monday, January 22, 2007

Republican Base Is Unhappy with Pawlenty's Budget


GOP criticism harsher

The sharpest criticism, however, came not from DFLers but from Pawlenty's own party.

House Minority Leader Marty Seifert, R-Marshall, said the surplus could have yielded $1 billion in tax relief for Minnesotans, rather than the $281 million recommended by Pawlenty.

David Strom, president of the Taxpayers League, a group that espouses a philosophy of fiscal conservatism, said the scope of the budget "took my breath away." The 9.3 percent spending increase "isn't just generous," Strom said, "it's knocking on the door of spendthrift."

And while Pawlenty does hold his budget increase under 10 percent overall, two areas of the budget stray well into the double-digit zone. Under his proposal, health and human service spending would rise nearly 19 percent over the 2006-07 budget period, while higher-ed spending would go up 16.4 percent.

That's due in large part to the $1 billion in ongoing spending required under current law. Just to accommodate increasing caseloads, health and human services requires nearly $1 billion before anything new is added.

The projected surplus gives Pawlenty an additional $2.1 billion for new spending.

"Pipe down"

Anticipating his critics, Pawlenty took a moment during his budget address to offer a Goldilocks-style defense. Those on the left, he said, would accuse him of spending too little. Those on the right would say he spent too much.

"I think it's about right," Pawlenty said. And in a flash of the feistier style of earlier years, he added that interest groups who wanted still more should "pipe down and be satisfied."

Pawlenty's budget plan calls for no new taxes and $1.7 billion in state borrowing for road projects. It also would rebuild state budget reserves, boost local police forces and State Patrol numbers, offer help for the homeless and water quality and increase preparedness for pandemic flu.

What will Geoff Michel do when a gas tax increase is introduced this year? From Spotty (who lives in Michel's district):

TPaw, through his mouthpiece, has already threatened to veto any gas tax:

On transportation, Senate DFLers would raise the gasoline tax, license tab fees and allow counties to raise taxes and fees, all to produce $1 billion of new spending on roads and transit. Pawlenty spokesman Brian McClung has dubbed the Senate bill "veto bait."

This is pretty funny, of course, because the Minnesota Legislature's site links the House and Senate versions as "companions." Fellow travelers, so to speak.

So that brings us back to the question in the title of the post. A good transportation bill with a gas tax increase will pass the DFL-controlled Legislature. The governor will probably veto it. Then there will be a vote to override the veto.

What are you gonna do, Geoffy (Michel)?

He voted against the gas tax increase last time, in spite of the fact that the two representatives in his district - Ron Erhardt and Neil Peterson - voted for it. He then had the bad taste to pretend that the Crosstown fiasco of last summer was not his fault.

Spotty, I bet he votes yes.