Sen. Nienow addresses State budget

Senator Sean Nienow
State Senator, District 17

As I write this, there is not yet a final state budget mutually agreed upon by the Governor and Legislature. It will certainly be nice if there is one when this goes to print. However, here is where the situation stands right now…

Governor Dayton is currently proposing a state budget of $36 billion, which would include multiple tax increases totaling about $2 billion of tax increases. The Governor’s proposal would increase state spending roughly 15 percent more than we spend in the current budget.

A large majority of Legislators were elected in 2010 pledging to constituents they would balance the State budget using only the resources our State tax revenue professionals said we had available – $32 billion. Earlier this year taxes coming into the state increased about $2 billion and the Legislature agreed to compromise up from that initial $32 billion and include additional tax revenue in our budget proposal. So now the legislature is currently proposing a budget of $34 billion – about 6 percent more than what we are currently spending.

We are currently spending (in the budget ending June 30) roughly $32 billion in total.

The current budget is spending $32 billion. The Governor proposes spending $36 billion in the Next budget. The halfway point between 32 and 36 is… 34.  The Legislature’s budget proposal uses that number: $34 billion. We agreed to include $2 billion of increased tax revenue, and our proposal is exactly at the midway point between the last budget and the Governor’s current proposal. Unfortunately, the Governor does not view that as a compromise position. To quote the Governor in a video press conference currently on MN Public Radio’s website: “I am not going to agree to anything, until I agree to everything” and went on to clearly state in no uncertain terms that he prefers a state government shutdown, to adopting the Legislative budget and only increase spending 6 percent.

If there is not full agreement by June 30, what then? Well there does not need to be a state government shutdown. I have proposed a “Third Way” to guarantee no shutdown. By the time this is printed I will have sent a letter to Gov Dayton proposing this, to guarantee state operations. What I will propose is to continue current funding levels at something around 90 percent until an agreement is reached. This will accomplish two things 1) it will guarantee that state government stays operational and state employees stay on the job and  2) it will still maintain pressure on the Governor and Legislators to negotiate a final budget solution.

Ultimately we need a final agreement, but if that takes a timeframe that goes beyond June 30 we do not need to have a government shutdown. My proposal will prevent that, but we cannot pass my bill unless the Governor chooses to call the Legislature back into a special session. If there is not a budget very soon, I hope he does that to pass my bill.

I welcome hearing from you on this or any other topic – any time! You can call me at 651-296-5419, or email me at [email protected]

  • Jack

    Sen. Nienow has dazzled us with all kinds of numbers but how about telling us exactly what cuts were made and how they are going to effect members of your district. I am sure there are programs that were cut so that other programs could be funded. Explain what programs you felt were not necessary and voted to reduce there funding.

    I also would like to know what happened to the supply and demand theory for economic stability. It does not matter how many tax breaks you give to businesses if no one can afford to buy their products and services, job cannot be created.

  • Bonnie Boese, Cambridge, MN

    I am proud of Governor Dayton for his stand against the systematic draining of the lifeblood of our state economy. I have lived in Iowa and South Dakota. I was happy to move here thirty years ago because I appreciated the proud liberal heritage for which Minnesota was known. I appreciated the commitment to safe roads and bridges, to decent health care for all Minnesotans, to well-qualified and well-trained police and fire departments which understand the importance of treating all citizens with respect, to high quality education available to every young person, and to the maintenance of parks and recreational facilities which encourage us to be healthy. In the past 8 years I have watched our previous governor bleed those resources in the name of fiscal responsibility, while accepting tobacco and other big business money to support his own political agenda.
    I believe that a two party system can provide the very wisest decisions from both parties, but that requires both parties to be committed to working together for the good of all. The current legislature has been taken over by playground bullies who feel that since they have the ball, they have no need to play the game of cooperation for resolutions which meet the needs of all Minnesotans.
    Governor Dayton and a few legislators have set the example of declining to be paid during this time of lay-offs and legislative failure, but many more call for cuts while they continue to swill at the public trough. Like Governor Dayton, I am happy to pay my share of taxes to support the good things we all expect in Minnesota, but I say not one penny more to those who spurn a commitment to maintain the quality of life here. We’ll be watching, Mr. Nienow and Mr. Daudt! The ball is in your court!