The #mnshutdown could still become a #mnshowdown

By now those interested have absorbed much of the analysis of the tentative compromise between Gov. Mark Dayton and Republican majority leaders in the legislature to end the state’s two-week shutdown.

Dayton loyalists are calling this the best the governor could have gotten under the circumstances and that’s probably true. It’s still a terrible budget. It is a small moral victory for Republcans trying to protect the wealthy and their interpretation of taxation, though probably not one that will last long or provide them political comfort next year. DFLers in the legislature have few good options. Many appear to be coalescing in opposition to the budget deal. Republican legislators will face enormous pressure to walk back on some of their sticking points. The passage of a bill will be difficult any way you cut it.

Most frustrating to me is the realization that even if the upcoming Special Session yields a budget fix, bipartisan negotiation failed to produce a long-term solution. In the school funding shift, which is nothing but a two-bit accounting trick, we admit that all we can accomplish are things that almost every learned person agrees is stupid. But it’s a stupid thing that temporarily fixes a budget gap without either side having to concede ideological ground. At some point the gap in this funding shift will be so great that the means to fix it will be more difficult than the rest of the budget combined.

I can count several Iron Range school districts that will be lucky to survive this increased shift. They can’t bond or levy their way out of what’s coming.

One unanswered question that I have, shared by many on the Iron Range, is the exact status of the GOP plan to rob the equivalent of Iron Range property taxes from an IRRRB jobs fund. This was one of the more shameful gimmicks used by the GOP and as far as I know this thing will have to be negotiated out in the special session, which appears to be slated for Monday sometime. Added to the mix is the political horse trading involved in Gov. Dayton’s biggest accomplishment, the agreement to a $500 million bonding bill to build projects across the state.

People always say “politics are broken.” In this case politicians on both sides must recognize that we are cruising for much bigger problems in the future if we don’t regain the ability to negotiate both revenue and cuts as a normal part of government stewardship.


  1. Both spending cuts and revenue increases? What? But that’s so…sensible and reasonable. That sounds like the kind of plan that would come about if you put a few hundred regular folks in a room together. There’s just no space for that kind of logic in politics. 🙂

  2. Hey Tony…tell me why the state should increase spending by 6%, to $34 billion (the repubs proposal) let alone by 13%, Daytons proposal?
    My wages were basically flat this last year. How ’bout yours?

  3. Demand for HHS services increases as our population shifts to an older demographic. Likewise, the number of citizens living under the poverty line over the last 10 years has increased. Likewise, we have the legacy of the past upteen years accounting games that also eats into the pie.

  4. As long as people are actually willing to defend absurdities such as people receiving child care subsidies at a rate which exceeds average family income we are going to have substantial problems. And if caring for children is the issue we’d subsidize mothers caring for children, not just mothers leaving their children to others to care for. This Big Rock Candy Mountain school of government just won’t cut it. Across Minnesota hard working citizens are thankful for their legislators who restrained Governor Dayton’s unwise impulses.

  5. I was just talking to someone about the social practices weve got for raising kids these days. I think you’re on to something, David, in incentivizing parents (I’d say mothers OR fathers, though, because of my lefty ways) to stay home with their young kids. That’d be best all around. Problem is the same though. That money would come from the HHS budget, the biggest, baddest budget of them all. It’s so big and bad because what happens there can only be measured as a success if you consider the social costs of health and wellness, upward mobility and care for the disadvantaged.

    We’ve talked about this $43K child care person before and while I believe it’s a real example I do think it’s an extreme example. That is neither common, nor ideal, nor the biggest problem in the budget. The costs of caring for people at the ends of their lives, treating people with illnesses or treating people who’ve ignored medical care for too long is far more expensive.

    It’s a complicated problem. I don’t doubt many conservatives are glad that liberals didn’t get the taxes they wanted. This is not a fiscally conservative budget, though. The school shift is terrible accounting and terrible policy. I don’t believe any political group in the state has anything to celebrate here. Instead, we get to do it all again next biennium.

  6. You’re right, it isn’t a conservative budget which is why Republicans aren’t happy either. Both parties got their bottom line. Dayton got a bigger budget and Republicans avoided tax increases. It is kicking the can down the road. But I think both parties think that is better than arriving at the wrong solution now.

    Dayton said something fascinating last night on Almanac. It ought to get front page coverage but I doubt a leftist paper like the Strib will touch it. Dayton said that the reason he didn’t accept the 30 June offer on 30 June and avoid the shutdown was because he didn’t realize the policy riders on things like abortino had been detached. In essence we had a shutdown because his staff failed. That is a very expensive failure.

  7. Your essay was good.

    Somehow we’ve got to get both business and government paying the employees a decent wage with benefits (or single payer health insurance, take your pick, as long as people get the coverage.) I can’t see that if a business pays a low wage because that is what the market will bear, but the recipient then qualifies for (tax subsidized)health care benefits, food stamps, WIC or other helps, that businesses come out ahead, if they get taxed to pay for this stuff.

    This is also cost shifting and poor accounting practices in the big picture.

    I never thought I’d see the day when my family members would qualify for services, but this past year has been eye opening. And the rules and hoops to jump through have also been eye opening. These adult children of mine were “managers” at very successful large chain businesses, yet living from hand to mouth with no benefits. They are neither undereducated, lazy, nor stupid, just underpaid, I believe, in an economy that can get away with that because of the high unemployment.

  8. Could either party do more to aid the cause of the Independence(GOP-lite) party?

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