By Bill Ingebrigtsen
I ran for the Minnesota Senate on the message of making government run better, controlling spending and improving our business climate through regulatory reform.
While we did accomplish some important reforms on the path to achieving these goals, we still have to finish the important work of arriving at a budget agreement. I remain confident that we can resolve our differences and avoid a shutdown, but that will only be accomplished if we move beyond some of the misinformation and evaluate the facts of the current situation.
The previous biennial budget (Fiscal Years 2010-11) spent $30 billion General Fund dollars. The two proposals for the FY2012-13 budget are for $37 billion from Dayton and $34 billion from the Republican-led legislature. The Republican position represents the approximate half way point between General Fund dollars spent last biennium and what the governor wants to spend in the next.
The legislature passed the largest general fund budget in our state's history and Dayton vetoed it. This $34 billion budget included $3 billion in additional revenue, is balanced and keeps government open and operating. We even met with the governor recently to propose a compromise offer that matched the governor's funding levels for K-12 education, Public Safety and the Judiciary, which in total amounts to approximately 50 percent of state spending.
The governor rejected that deal, opting instead to continue his pursuit of higher taxes on "the rich." However, the Minnesota Department of Revenue stated that half of the 45,500 tax filers who would pay a higher rate under the governor's tax plan are small business owners. His plan, the department stated, would directly impact over 20,000 small businesses. In the midst of an economic recession, we cannot afford to further burden our businesses and job providers.
Rather than embrace government growth limited to 6 percent and seeking new ways of doing business, Dayton threatens to shut down government for 15 percent spending growth and even higher taxes.
Candidate Dayton said he wouldn't shut down the government to force a tax increase. I remain hopeful that Governor Dayton will keep his promise.
Bill Ingebrigtsen is a Minnesota Senator representing District 11, which includes Stevens County.