Monday, June 27, 2005

What If The Government Shuts Down And No One Notices?

Here in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, and even more laws, we are facing the shutdown of state government over a budget impasse. At the heart of the issue is whether to raise state spending 8% or 10% and how much to raise taxes to support the chosen spending targets. As the Special Session of our state legislature has dragged on with no end in sight, the press and pollpigs have bombarded the public with dire predictions of ruin and chaos if the bloated state government is allowed to shutdown.

"Lions and tigers and bears, oh my."

What has become obvious is that the public is not buying the prevailing line of alarmist rhetoric. In fact, most Minnesotans are more concerned about the weather, the recent slump by the Twins and how to get rid of the crab grass in the front yard. And this, my friends, is precisely NOT what the political power-players expected.

Let's take a look at a few facts. The issue is not whether or not to raise state spending but how much to raise spending (8% or 10%). Any increase in state spending will exceed growth in personal income. The increase in education spending that is being proposed is primarily to cover the cost of benefits and health care for teachers. All of the increases will come from increased taxes of one form or another. The government shutdown is really just a partial shutdown.

The clowns in the Minnesota State Legislature have had many, many months to work out these issues. In those months they have managed to pass one piece of legislation that the public actually supported: the reinstatement of the Concealed Carry law. Beyond this, they have done very darned little that will ever result in a positive benefit for the majority of the voters and taxpayers in Minnesota. After being in session for months and drawing a salary from the taxpayers, they are now in "Special Session" and still drawing a salary from the taxpayers.

So now we face the Great Government Shutdown of 2005, and lo and behold, no one seems to care except those who had hoped that massive public outcry would force budget negotiators to agree to a massive new spending and tax increase package. Instead of huge crowds of angry taxpayers demanding that their taxes be increased rather than allowing the nanny state to be shutdown, the response has been a very significant
"yawn".

Is there an easy solution to this impasse? While it is popular to claim that the issues are so serious as to not allow a simple solution, the truth is that there are some fairly simple steps that can be enacted. For instance:

* Pass a budget that does not increase government spending or at the most, allows for an increase equal to any increase in the cost of living.

* Reduce the money needed for the rapidly failing public education system by standing up to the teachers unions and demanding that increases in teachers health care cost be paid for by the teachers themselves and not the already cash strapped taxpayers.

* Approve the Racino - this will provide a quick $200 million dollar infusion to the budget.

But the problem with any of the simple and obvious solutions is that the pollpigs will not be able to deliver the goods for the special interest groups, primarily the teachers unions, welfare recipients and Indian tribes.

Even the elected Clowns should by now realize that the taxpayers of this state simply do not want to pay more taxes to support other people nor do we really care if the bloated state government shuts down. So go ahead, shutdown the state government. Let's see just how many of the so-called vital state services are really vital. More importantly, let's see how many people actually care.

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