Yesterday in the Daily Caller I wrote about the "third way" budget commission created in Minnesota at the behest of Gov. Mark Dayton, and how it closely mirrors the failed Simpson-Bowles commission in D.C.:
News this week suggests that Minnesota will begin to mirror Washington, D.C. even more closely. With the blessing of Gov. Dayton, an allegedly “bipartisan commission” will be created to study Minnesota’s budget crisis and suggest solutions. We’ve seen this movie before, most recently when President Obama created the Simpson-Bowles commission to make recommendations on how to solve America’s debt crisis. Alan Simpson, a former Republican senator from Wyoming, was the token tax-hiking Republican handpicked to put GOP fingerprints on a multi-trillion dollar tax increase.
It seemed all but certain that the commission would recommend a huge tax increase, just like its big brother on the federal level:
The useful idiot in Minnesota’s iteration is former Republican Gov. Arne Carlson, who joined former presidential candidate Walter Mondale in creating the commission. In Carlson’s case, the “former” qualifier applies both to his status as governor and as a Republican. He endorsed Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential election and has backed a long list of Democrats for office in recent years.Make no mistake about it: Carlson’s commission will propose massive tax increases to balance Minnesota’s budget. This is why Gov. Dayton supports the commission’s participation in this academic exercise. It’s the same reason why Alan Simpson is Barack Obama’s favorite Republican: He makes liberal exploitation of the concept of bipartisanship possible.
Fast forward to today, and that's exactly what happened. The commission released its recommendations today, which included $1.4 billion in tax increases. Under the plan, income taxes increase for everyone, as do taxes on cigarettes and alcohol. Cue the media response: "Even prominent Republican Arne Carlson agrees that more revenues are needed to solve the current budget crisis."
Try telling that to Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch and House Speaker Kurt Zellers. They passed a budget that balances the state budget without raising taxes. Rather than engaging in political gamesmanship and starting their side of the negotiations with an artificially low spending level, they drafted and passed budget bills that spend the amount of money the state can afford. Gov. Dayton, on the other hand, started with a massive spending package approaching $40 billion and has slowly come down as he realized the legislature won't write him a blank check.
This is not Dayton compromising and Republicans being stubborn. There is no room for compromise. Republican Leadership produced a realistic budget that spends what the state can afford while Dayton would rather shut down state government than forego tax hikes. It isn't clear what the governor's legislative agenda is, other than to spend more money than the state has on hand for the sake of doing so.
Let's not be fooled by liberal Arne Carlson's silly budget commission. Minnesota's budget problems have been identified and solutions proposed. This is a matter of Republicans holding the line until Dayton figures out that a tax increase won't be happening in Minnesota this year.