Republicans don’t deliver on promisesPublished 3:56am Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Column: Mary Hinnenkamp, My Point of View
Many years ago, my husband and I applied for jobs working with at-risk girls in the Bronx in New York. The administrator told us at the time that the fact we were from Minnesota helped us to get the jobs. Why?
Because his impression was that people from Minnesota are well-educated, and they care about others.
Four years ago, my husband and I were vacationing in Washington, D.C. One morning we had trouble finding the Phillips Gallery and stopped a woman on the street. She told us to walk with her, that she was heading in that direction. She asked where we were from and when we told her Minnesota, she said, “Ah, I’ve been to Minnesota, the Guthrie and the Walker.” She said she was so impressed with the way Minnesota supported the arts. When we got to the gallery, it turned out she was the curator of the Phillips. She walked us through the employee door and told the staff to give us a bottle of water and not charge us admission. Why?
Because we were from Minnesota — where people care about education, the arts and a good quality of life.
Over the first eight years of our marriage, my husband and I lived in Kentucky, New York, Chicago and suburban Washington, D.C. But we returned to Minnesota to live our lives and raise a family in no small part because Minnesota was a place where the state and its people believed in quality of life — a good educational system, a concern for the environment and a concern for others and policies in place to help those who needed help.
Over the past few years, I have begun to feel that my Minnesota is slipping away. The last shutdown is evidence of that. It seems that the present Republican Party’s goal is to change the Minnesota that I love. They campaigned to improve Minnesota, but the result has been the opposite.
Let’s look at what the Republicans said they would do in their campaign last year, and what they actually accomplished.
First of all. Republicans said that they would create jobs, jobs, jobs. Yet in their budget proposal — which Gov. Mark Dayton rejected — they proposed to cut the state workforce by 15 percent. They proposed huge cuts in local government aid. That cut would have resulted in many layoffs to county and city workers: police, firefighters, nurses, social workers, custodians and so on. Their budget to delay payments to schools will no doubt result in the layoff of teachers, paras and custodians across the state. Ha. Job creators indeed.
Republicans said that they would reform government, make it run more efficiently. But it was their intransigence (they planted their feet and crossed their arms) that led to a government shutdown. We are now known as the state that doesn’t work. Good government indeed.
Republicans said that they should be the ones to be trusted with fixing the Minnesota budget, that they were the money managers. Yet they refused to raise taxes on people who make more than $250,000. When Gov. Dayton in the spirit of compromise changed his tax plan to the people who make $1 million or more a year, they still refused to compromise. Instead, their budget became the budget. Minnesota will delay payments to schools and issue tobacco bonds to sell off future tobacco payments. Good fiscal managers indeed.
And lastly. Republicans present themselves as caring people who want to protect those most vulnerable. I remember during the last campaign, I got several campaign fliers saying that the Republicans would do a better job of protecting senior citizens and others who need help. Well once in office, the Republicans proposed painful cuts to higher education, medical assistance, renters credit, Minnesota Care, mental health services and many others. These deep cuts would have ensured that Minnesotans would find it more difficult to afford college, medical care and the ability to pay bills in a tough economy. Caring indeed.
I am still proud of Minnesota, proud of the Democrats who refused to sign on to the budget, proud of a governor who did the best he could to protect our state working with an ideologically driven majority in the Legislature. It seems that Republicans believe they did a good job this year, that the budget is a success because their only mandate was to not raise taxes on anyone under any circumstances. And, I think that the Republicans in the Legislature are counting on Minnesotans who are unhappy with the budget to forget what happened. I think we need to show them that they are wrong. We are disgusted with the budget and with the way they governed. And we need to tell them that now and in the next election.
Mary Hinnenkamp is a member of the Freeborn County DFL Party.