The state of Minnesota was just mugged. There were no negotiations, there was no compromise. Our legislative Republican majority did not make a single new proposal during two weeks of government shutdown. Our Democratic Governor Mark Dayton, on the other hand, came out with idea after idea seeking compromise and only got obstinate “no way” responses from the other side. To me this began to feel like a real crime, like a mugging. The criminals had no intent to compromise and no interest in their victim. Our only choices were to hand over what they wanted or get shot. As we all know, the sane thing to do when you are being mugged is to hand over the goods and hope the criminals don’t kill you. Today Governor Dayton handed over the goods, we’ll see how severe the damage is over the coming year.
While I am disappointed that the Governor had to eventually accede to the awful proposal the Republicans made before the shutdown began, I also don’t think there was much choice left. He gave in to a plan that even former Republican Governor Arnie Carlson says “represents some of the very worst” financial planning he’s ever seen. It is a plan that extends the financial gimmicks Minnesota has been playing to absurd levels, stealing even more money from already strapped schools by delaying state payments to school districts and giving away future tobacco payments in order to raise the revenue required to scrape together a budget. In order to keep a few more dollars in millionaire pockets, the tea party “conservatives” have left Minnesota in even worse fiscal health than ever. This is a disastrous budget that will keep Minnesota on its downward trend for years to come.
Still, the Governor did get a few concessions. Some terrible social policy language was stripped from the Republican proposal, a 15% state workforce cut was avoided, and a $500M bonding bill will accompany the budget outside the usual odd/even year cycle for this sort of thing in Minnesota. Dayton is not up for reelection until 2014, he’ll get at least one more chance to push for a budget that turns Minnesota around.
Meanwhile, the Republicans are busy claiming victory for a plan that will expose them for the hypocrites and liars they are. They claim to value fiscal responsibility and demand a budget of smoke and mirrors. They claim to value every voice, yet refuse to negotiate with the Governor in good faith while their state is in crisis around them. Today they got exactly what they wanted, and our job as Democrats will be to remind them that this was a Republican plan from beginning to end, forced on the state at virtual gunpoint.
Every single Minnesota House and Senate seat is up for election again in 2012, thanks to redistricting brought on by the recent census. This plan credited to the Republican right should give us the foundation we need to take back the Minnesota legislature in 2012 and give Dayton some partners he can work with.