Today Governor Pawlenty began the difficult task of unallotment. Unallotment was, of course, not the governor's first choice. But since the legislature couldn't agree on how to solve yet another astronomical budget deficit, he had little choice. Overspending can be dealt with one of two ways: 1. Control spending, or 2. Raise taxes.
Among the proposals from the Democratic legislature for the state's 2.7 billion shortfall:
Increase income tax on all Minnesotans. The rate change would have been: 5.35% rate increased to 6%, 7.05 rate to 7.7%, 7.85% to 8.5%. The Democrats also wanted to create a new 9.25% rate. They also proposed doubling the cigarette tax from 48 cents to $1.02 cents per pack, and raising alcohol taxes, including doubling the receipt tax and per drink taxes on wine, beer and distilled spirits.
Other "revenue enhancements" included a proposal to end the sales tax exemption on the private sale of boats, RVs and snowmobiles, imposing an i-Tunes tax -(tax you when you download music from Internet based sellers) and the list goes on and on.
Democrats proposed repealing tax credits for K-12 education expenses, dependent care expenses, long-term care insurance premiums and the gas tax credit; as well as take away itemized deductions for property taxes, mortgage interest and charitable contributions.
Simply reading of these astronomical proposed tax increases is exhausting. Minnesotans have been tightening their belts substantially the last few years in an effort to climb out of financial struggles brought on by skyrocketing gas prices, food prices, and a slew of layoffs that was accelerated due to the continue raising of corporate taxes in Minnesota. Yet, the Democratic legislature saw absolutely no need to reign in their out of control spending.
While we citizens work so very hard to live within our means during these tough economic times, let me ask if any of the following budget expenses are necessities to you:
$200,000 from the workforce development fund to the "Indigenous Earthkeepers" program for American Indian youth environmental education and training.
To forgive debt on a loan to the City of St. Paul. Taxpayers have already "forgiven" $17 million of St.Paul's debt.
To members of a farmers market association for members who incurred crop damages as a result of a hail storm in 2008.
Over $65,593,000 (in 2008/2009)
For "integration aid" to schools. Rep. Pat Garofalo (R-Dist 36B) investigated aid and here are some examples of what this money was being spent on: see:http://www.auditor.leg.state.mn.us/ped/2005/integrev.htm
* After school soccer $3,000
* Art Exhibit $7,500
* Collaborative coordinator $43,000
* Cultural liaison officer, salary & benefits $125,000
* Culturally responsive teacher training $ 15,000
* Equity coach $74,000
* Ethnic celebrations $ 3,000
* Field trip scholarships $ 10,000
* 5th grade kindness retreat $ 5,000
* Food & snack for ethnic celebrations $ 4,000
* Integration program coordinator $ 99,000
* Secretary to IPC $ 57,600
* Newcomers program teacher $ 113,000
* Pen Pal book club $ 3,500
* 6 step hip hop program $2,000
Other examples of proposed spending include;
3 million for auto repairs, auto loans, and auto purchase grants to individuals who are eligible to receive MFIP (a.k.a. welfare) benefits for those who have lost eligibility for benefits due to earnings in the prior 12 months.
$500,000 for composting grants
The following money comes from grants to artists......
$590,000 in grants for artists to travel around the world since 2003
$5,000 for a grant to a Bloomington man to "finish hand coloring 'Boris', an animation about overcoming difficult circumstances to live a happy life."
$2,000 for a Mpls woman to revise her memoir entitled "My Transgender Husband: A Love Story."
$6,000 for a Mpls woman to photograph, among other things, closed Dairy Queens in the winter time.
$12.4 million for grants like the ones above in this year's "jobs" bill.
I have listed these things because you deserve to know the truth. The media and the Democratic majority are portraying our governor as the "bad guy" in not allowing the Democrats to raise taxes. He is one courageous man in calling them on their bluff. When Minnesotans - both private citizens and businesses-are having to tighten their belts to make ends meet in these very difficult econ mic times, Minnesota government needs to do the same. We should be commending Governor Pawlenty for having the courage and the discipline to make the tough decisions when no one else would. I can assure you that I would never vote for these expenditures with the hard-earned tax-payer dollars. Minnesota's constitution requires that our state live within a balanced budget . It is the responsibility of our elected officials to uphold that constitution and spend our tax dollars wisely. Let's remind them next November of our wishes for elected officials to do just that.