Let the dust settle after elections [UPDATED]Published 9:12am Monday, November 12, 2012 Updated 11:13am Monday, November 12, 2012
It’s only been a few days since the election was over, and I’m already seeing the writing on the wall from St. Paul.
There are legislative members from the DFL who want the Republicans to pay for what they’ve done.
Two early pieces of evidence:
• Sen. John Marty — who is the Michelle Bachmann of the DFL in the Minnesota Legislature, for those who aren’t familiar — has already said he’ll put forth a bill to legalize gay marriage on day 1 of the next legislative session.
• The DFL majority has selected Paul Thiessen (House) and Tom Bakk (Senate) as its leaders, two guys who are hardly in the middle of the spectrum when it comes to issues.
Seriously, someone has to put the reins on some of these guys.
If anyone believes that the reason,
don’t get me wrong — I’m all for legalizing gay marriage in Minnesota, and have stated that fact in my column many times.
But come on, we just had an election in which 1.4 million state residents believe gay marriage is wrong. How about we give it, say, a couple years to let the issue settle down.
More importantly, I also think that Minnesota voters sent a clear message in this election: Stop messing around with your political ideologies and get your priorities straight. From what I’m hearing, the deficit is the top priority.
We are facing a $6.2 billion deficit in the upcoming biennium (next two years). It is believed that there is a structural deficit of $2 to $3 billion per year. There are no more accounting shifts or federal stimulus funds, and residents want the school shift repaid.
State residents also were not stupid when it comes to the Republicans’ claim that they avoided tax increases. Cutting state aid to cities homestead credits, as expected, resulted in property tax increases statewide. Passing the buck does not count does not count.
I believe Minnesota voters gave the majority to the DFL for three reasons: 1.) The Republicans failed to fix the problem, 2.) The Republicans were unreasonable on their unwillingness to compromise on tax increases to the point of shutting down the government, and 3.)
At a time when we need serious deficit solutions, Republicans were concerned about issues such as Voter ID and marriage amendments, both of which seemed to be more for the benefit of the Republican party than in the interest of Minnesota residents.
Please, DFL leaders, do as Minnesota residents want. Are some reasonable tax increases acceptable? With a $3 billion annual budget deficit, they probably need to be. I’m not sure it’s possible to completely cut our way out of the deficit.
But those tax increases, no matter who they are given to, ought to be temporary.
Once the state recovers, the new taxes should be the first to go. It’s only fair. Some surveys consider Minnesota to have the seventh-highest overall tax burden in the country. For the most part, I think we get what we’re paying for — good schools, good health care, good roads.
But we simply can’t tax our way out of this one. DFL leaders need to bite the bullet and make spending cuts, across the board. It’s going to hurt.
There will be plenty of stories that will come out as the cuts come up about how this group of people or that will suffer from a proposed cut in state funding. (Think federal funding for Big Bird times 100.)
But we have no choice. During World War II, Franklin Delano Roosevelt managed to convey the message that all citizens needed to sacrifice.
These days, politicians seem unwilling to do that. But we do. If you’re in debt as an individual, money that you may use for a new car or vacation has to be used to pay off credit cards.
You may need a new car, and for your mental health, you may need a vacation. But you can’t afford it.
Maybe it makes sense that the people who are accused of creating the most spending are the ones who will have to cut it.
After all, only Nixon could go to China.
Joel Myhre is The Journal’s Publisher. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org