During the House DFL leadership's press conference last Thursday in which they unveiled the broad strokes of their balanced budget plan, Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher and Majority Leader Tony Sertich used biting language to characterize the budget plan of their political opponent, Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty.
In defending their own budget proposals which include, in the Speaker's words, "progressive taxation," the DFL leadership criticized the Governor's budget as only offering "temporary money for a permanent problem."
Speaker Anderson Kelliher stated that an analysis performed by the Governor's own Office of Management and Budget shows the Governor's budget is $2.6 billion from being balanced. She added:
"I would say maybe there's a little bit of a house of mirrors going on in the Governor's budget and the Governor's budget might be best characterized as a little bit fake at this point in terms of its long-term effect on Minnesotan's lives."
The Speaker called the Governor's budget proposals "unreasonable," and then said, "It will be up to the Governor whether we can enact a balanced budget...One thing stands between Minnesotans and a balanced budget, and that is Governor Pawlenty."
The Speaker then hit the Governor on his signature issue of taxes - which Pawlenty continually states he is opposed to raising:
"The Governor has not been honest with Minnesotans about the last six years and his unending appetite for raising property taxes and putting taxes off on other levels of government."
Near the end of the DFL press conference, in a bit of gamesmanship, the Speaker instructed her aids to leave their slide behind which demonstrated how the DFL plan balanced the budget and the Governor's plan did not. She wryly stated it should be left for Minority Leader Marty Seifert to see during his press conference which followed immediately thereafter.
In his response, Rep. Seifert continued to speak plainly as he has for weeks as to how he thinks this budget battle will play out:
"I think when this gets through the process you're going to see some vetoes, you're going to see vetoes sustained, and we're going to have to start over."
In explaining how committed his GOP caucus is to oppose the DFL plan and prevent a veto override, Seifert quoted his GOP colleague Representative Jim Abeler (48B-Anoka), who told him: "I'm not interested in raising taxes to protect the welfare state." Abeler was one of the Override 6, who broke with his caucus a year ago to help pass a DFL transportation bill that included a gas tax increase provision.
How long will it take the DFL to get legislation up for a vote? Will Seifert's prediction of an ultimate stalemate be borne out? Will his caucus hold? And, if so, what would a compromise bill look like between the DFL House, Senate, and the Governor?
Seifert may share his insights on several of these matters when he speaks at the Humphrey Institute a week from Wednesday in a forum sponsored by the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance.
Leading for Minnesota's Future:
Public Forum with Minority Leader Marty Seifert
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
12:00 - 1:15pm
301 19th Ave S., Minneapolis