For weeks, we here at Pawlenty Exposed have been highlighting Two-Faced Tim's web of lies. His tax increases and his general apathy towards working class Minnesotans. Yesterday, he unveiled his budget, showing his true colors by kicking hard working Minnesotans, working class people who make at best, $7 or $8 an hour, off MinnesotaCare. But don't just take our word for it....
A shifty budget/Pawlenty pushes costs elsewhere
Gov. Tim Pawlenty's 2006-07 budget proposal adroitly demonstrates how the state's money problems can be pushed around until they become somebody else's problems.
The two-year plan the Republican governor released Tuesday would, he said, "put Minnesota back on solid footing" financially, without raising taxes.
That's true if by Minnesota, Pawlenty means only state government. Local taxes are bound to rise if his budget is enacted, while the working poor, college students, hospitals, low-income parents and others who depend on government services would find themselves on shakier financial ground.
Property tax increases are an explicit part of Pawlenty's K-12 financing plan. His K-12 budget finally ends a four-year freeze on the per-pupil allotment the state gives school districts. But its 2 percent per year increase does not begin to cover mounting education costs, something the governor acknowledges by proposing to give schools more authority to raise levies without voter approval.
According to Education Department projections, Pawlenty's plan anticipates a 23 percent jump in the school portion of average property tax bills next year and a 9 percent increase in the year after that.
Every major hospital in Minnesota has already seen charity care costs rise in the last two years, because of health insurance changes made by the 2003 Legislature, and the governor's budget would compound that problem. In the case of public hospitals, it would make it property taxpayers' problem too.
Thousands of working Minnesotans have lost subsidized health insurance in the last two years. Thousands more would lose eligibility under Pawlenty's plan. Single adults without children would no longer qualify for MinnesotaCare, the state insurance plan designed for low-income working people. Family eligibility for the program would also shrink, though not disappear. A "safety net" of sorts would remain, giving those who lose MinnesotaCare a choice when they become ill: Either spend themselves into dire poverty, or go without care. Neither is a choice worthy of a state that values its human capital.
College students can expect another two years of tuition increases at or approaching double-digit increases under Pawlenty's budget. Though the governor would fund a number of important initiatives at the University of Minnesota and in the MnSCU system, his budget fails to cover the state's share of the cost of higher enrollment.
Low-income parents and child care providers also would bear more costs, as a freeze in the state's reimbursement for child care costs is extended.
All of those cost-shifting maneuvers deserve careful scrutiny in coming months. But one proposal might, unfortunately, steal the show. Pawlenty's bid for a $200 million upfront licensing fee for a new casino, operated by the state and three northern Ojibwe tribes in partnership, moves casino gambling policy to center stage at the Legislature.
The governor's casino idea is promising. But it seems unripe for legislative discussion, and it seems premature to assume that the state will actually collect a $200 million casino licensing fee the governor is counting on. The three tribes involved -- Leech Lake, Red Lake and White Earth -- have not yet agreed with the state on fundamental features of such an enterprise, such as how proceeds would be shared or what an appropriate license fee might be.
Pawlenty said he remains open to conversations with other tribes that might lead to new compacts that would guarantee revenue for the state and exclusivity for the tribes. Those conversations ought to be pursued now in earnest, by both parties.
Meanwhile, the Legislature should focus not on the glitz of gambling, but something that has always been basic in Minnesota governance: fairness. Other states may do as Pawlenty proposes -- relying more on local taxes, letting school quality vary with differences in community wealth, allowing sickness and poverty to go hand-in-hand.
Through the years, Minnesota has chosen to govern itself in a fairer way, with responsible state government. Pawlenty's budget proposal will make the 2005 Legislature choose again.
Source: Star Tribune January 26th, 2005