Minnesota House Majority Leader Rep. Matt Dean (R-Dellwood)

David Brewster, Dml - Star Tribune

Rep. Matt Dean: An open letter to Gov. Mark Dayton

  • Article by: MATT DEAN
  • July 7, 2011 - 10:32 PM

Minnesota is beginning its eighth day of a government shutdown. More than 20,000 state employees are out of work, and many more private-sector employees and businesses are beginning to feel the ripple effect of the shutdown.

With the July 4th holiday over, more of our citizens will begin to experience the shutdown firsthand as they attempt to interact with the state. So it is with this sense of urgency that I offer these suggestions:

1. Abandon your continued call for tax increases. State revenue will increase $3.1 billion in the next biennium. We can fund the priorities outlined in your State of the State speech without taking any more money from struggling families and businesses. We don't need an income tax increase or a cigarette tax increase. And we certainly don't need the across-the-board income tax proposed by the Carlson-Mondale commission.

2. Call us back into special session immediately to pass a "lights on" budget bill. There is no reason to shut down the entire state government while we continue to look for resolutions on areas of disagreement. Thousands of Minnesotans want nothing more than to show up for work and do their jobs. By fighting in court for the right to stand between them and their paychecks, you are demanding that they go on strike for your party and the special-interest groups it represents.

3. Invite Lt. Gov. Yvonne Prettner Solon into the negotiations. As a former state senator and committee chair, she knows the legislative process and the state budget. Perhaps she can bring a fresh perspective to the negotiations and help find resolution.

4. Stop claiming the negotiations were halted because we demanded your support for nonbudget policy matters. You know very well we removed all of the policy in our final offer to you last Thursday afternoon. To do so is untrue and misleading the public.

5. Call for an end to the outside political activity by your allies. Minnesotans know it's too late to be fighting over the last election and too early to start fighting about the next one. They are fed up, tapped out and anxious about their houses, their jobs and their kids. They have neither the time nor the patience for this shutdown or the politics around it. Serious negotiations can begin when the political campaign is halted.

Minnesota is gaining unwanted and unneeded national attention for failing to come to agreement while every other state has resolved its differences. Notably, the Democrat governors of California and New York resolved their budgets without raising taxes or shutting down state government.

Now that the shutdown is here, Minnesotans are having a long-overdue conversation about the proper role, size and cost of government.

It is also an opportunity to use the input of Minnesotans to put in place real reforms in human-services delivery, education and state government operations. Minnesota can and should lead, not follow, this national debate.

Gov. Dayton, call us when you are ready to put Minnesota back to work. Call us when you are ready to discuss real government reform that will prevent us from doing this all over again in 2013. Call us when you are serious about negotiating a settlement to this budget stalemate.

Matt Dean, R-Dellwood, is majority leader of the Minnesota House.

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