I’ll be honest; when I think Minnesota I usually think hockey, thanks to The Mighty Ducks, and the Vikings football team. Sadly it seems like over the past few days something else has been dominating my once happy Minnesota associations. As of July 1st 2011, the Minnesota state government has officially shutdown after the State legislature and Governor Dayton failed to reach a budget agreement.
The simplest explanation is a disagreement on how to address a 5 billion dollar deficit. To raise revenue the Governor and other Democratic leaders wanted an increase in taxes from the top 2% of earners in the state but during negotiations dropped that down to only those making over 1 million a year. The Republican leaders say they are determined to ensure taxes aren’t raised at all. Unless of course Governor Dayton will approve certain pieces of social legislation; they countered his offer to limit tax increases with a request to approve a number of previously vetoed bills including a ban on abortions after 20 weeks, a ban on public funding of abortion and legislation on gay marriage.
“We will not saddle our children and grandchildren with mounds of debts…” said by Kurt Zellers, Speaker of the Minnesota House of Representatives, claiming they are refusing to budge on the budget because they care about the future of Minnesotans. In reality, Republicans in Minnesota care more about keeping the rich, rich than they do about their constituents. Let’s not forget that one of the 2 primary solutions put forth by Republicans would actually directly impact those children and grandchildren: they want to take a loan from the school system by deferring aid payments. This will keep much needed money out of the school system leaving children with a lower quality education. The second option would be a loan against future payments owed to the state by tobacco manufacturers. Both options would add to the debt they are, in theory, so ferociously opposed to. Governor Dayton has indicated that he is willing to accept the deferment of payments to schools as a way to reduce spending.
Clearly actually resolving the debt issue is the last thing on their minds; Republicans are far more focused on ensuring that their social agenda gets approved. The Minnesota State Supreme Court decided in 1995 that all women have a right to abortion access and that the State must cover abortions for low-income women, so why the GOP thought banning coverage was going to be supported by the Governor is perplexing to say the least. Clearly limiting a woman’s healthcare is more important to them then actually helping to resolve the state’s budgetary woes. Governor Dayton is calling on Republicans to resume discussion this afternoon to end the government shutdown; we can only hope they use logic instead of ideology this time around.