Gov. Dayton’s budget ignores reform

Published 11:25 am Saturday, February 19, 2011

Column: Rich Murray, Capitol Conversations

Gov. Mark Dayton’s 2011 State of the State address was given on Feb. 9, and it’s a day I’ll never forget. First of all, I was humbled to have been named as part of the legislative group that escorted the governor from his office to the House floor. Second, I was honored to have Albert Lea Teacher of the Year Mark Nechanicky join me as my special guest for the address!

Rich Murray

As for the speech itself, Dayton discussed the need to reform government and create jobs in Minnesota. As we face a $6.2 billion budget deficit, I think every lawmaker understands that state government must refine the way it operates and that we must improve our job climate.

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That said, the governor also suggested raising income taxes, which would negatively impact those business owners who are looking to expand their operation and put more people to work.

During his address, the governor failed to indicate how he planned to eliminate the state’s deficit. After hearing his balanced budget proposal a few days after his speech, I now understand why.

Despite telling lawmakers how committed he was toward making government more efficient and creating a more job-friendly atmosphere in this state, he unveiled a budget plan that would make both of these goals unattainable.

In short, the governor did nothing to address Minnesota’s spending problem. He basically took the easy way out by outlining a tax first, worry about reform and innovation later budget plan.

In an effort to eliminate our mammoth deficit, Gov. Dayton proposed raising taxes by more than $4 billion, while requesting only $485 million in net reductions from state government spending. It’s also worth noting that Dayton’s budget would cost taxpayers $37 billion over the next two years, which is $5 billion more than our current budget.

The governor’s proposal is not feasible during these trying economic times, as he is proposing more of the same old status quo that got us into this mess. It seems apparent that he is entrenching himself as a barrier to reform in state government. I fear that this budget proposal, if implemented, would stop any economic recovery in its tracks.

One of my top goals is to jump-start job creation and economic development in this state. But if the message from the Governor’s Office is that current and prospective job providers should pay the highest tax rates in the nation, lawmakers are going to have a rough time convincing business owners to expand here.

Minnesota’s government is in need of major reform, and this budget proposal does not address it. Gov. Dayton should realize that if he wants to raise taxes to pay for out-of-control government spending, that proposal will not make it very far in the Minnesota House. Let’s remember, government spending is projected to increase by 27 percent over the next two years. This kind of growth is unsustainable.

Rather than making tough choices to control our spending issues, the governor simply chose to throw more of your money at the problem in hopes that it will all go away. I found Gov. Dayton’s budget proposal to be extremely disappointing because I thought he was committed to reforming government. Now we know he’s looking for ways to expand it.

Have a question or concern? Constituents in District 27A including communities in Freeborn and Mower counties can write to me at 439 State Office Building, 100 Rev Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55155. Or call me at 651-296-8216 or e-mail me at