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Kelliher: Budget deficit looms

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news Bemidji, 56619
Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

The next governor faces a multibillion-dollar deficit, and all options must be on the table, says House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher.

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Republicans argue that means a return to "tax and spend" Democrats.

"The principles around balancing our budget should make sure that we include all options on the table," Kelliher said Sunday in an interview.

Kelliher, the DFL endorsee for governor, was in Bemidji on Sunday to present her lieutenant governor candidate, John Gunyou, to the DFL Central Committee meeting in Bemidji.

"We've had a governor who's been pretty beholden to his slogan, and his slogan has meant people's property taxes have gone up more than $3 billion in the last few years," she said.

She was referring to Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty's "no new taxes" pledge, which he's held for eight years.

"Don't believe anybody who comes to town and tells you they can cut 20 or 30 percent of the state budget and not have it affect you," she said. "You'd better hold onto your pocketbook because your pocketbook is going to get hit in property taxes."

Kelliher notes that Republican-endorsed Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Delano, wants to eliminate Local Government Aid to cities.

":Tom Emmer has been very vocal -- he wants to eliminate Local Government Aid," Kelliher said. "Can you imagine in a city like Bemidji what that would mean? That would be a tremendous, tremendous loss."

Cutting LGA would also affect school districts, she said, because cutting 30 percent of the state budget can't work without cutting programs for kids.

"I'm for a balanced approach, and that's what Minnesotans need to know," Kelliher said. "We need to make sure that the wealthiest Minnesotans are paying their fair share."

Kelliher would increase taxes on those making more than $250,000, after deductions. Those people "can afford to pay just a little bit more on the income tax," she said.

That differs from Aug. 10 primary opponent former U.S. Sen. Mark Dayton, Kelliher said, as Dayton's plan would increase taxes on wages over $75,000, she said. "In my world, that's not rich."

Gunyou, "like me, is a middle class Minnesotan who has raised their kids in public schools here in the state," Kelliher said. "With that, the lieutenant governor is going to take on some special roles and responsibilities in my administration. He's not being a commissioner, because I think that didn't work out so well."

Pawlenty appointed Lt. Gov. Carol Molnau as commissioner or transportation, but the Senate refused to ratify her nomination in a swirl of controversy.

The lieutenant governor will have two functions in a Kelliher administration, she said.

"First of all, is just in asking John to be lieutenant governor -- one of the best and brightest here in Minnesota," Kelliher said. "We need to build a team of the best and brightest in state government again, who are working every single day to help build back and really move forward our state and the goals that we have."

Gunyou is city manager of Minnetonka, but previous has served is financial director to both Gov. Arne Carlson and Minneapolis Mayor Don Fraser.

"The second piece that he is going to work on is a very specific thing," Kelliher said. "I think Minnesota voters want to know what value they're getting for their tax dollar and how we're doing on the big, important goals -- things like school readiness for our kids."

That includes K-12 and higher education, she said, such as if the state is graduating more two- and four-year college students today than 20 years ago.

She wants to put a performance management system put in place, "where we have the goals set by Minnesotans, with Minnesotans' input. We measure those pieces, we report back to the public and then people are held accountable."

Gunyou would head up that project, she said.

She admitted it is similar to Gov. Jesse Ventura's "Big Plan," but that the new effort will be more accountable.

Several states have such systems, she said, including Virginia where the business community is working with a Democratic governor.

"Our competitors are just not other states," Kelliher said. "They're around the world. If you don't set the goals of where you want to go, then you are not going to make it to where you need to be as state."

As to the recent session, Kelliher agreed that Pawlenty got nearly all he wanted, but said it was time to move on and not continue to fight.

What really stung the governor was the Supreme Court decision going against his unallotments of a year ago, she said.

"The court gave him a big black eye," Kelliher said. "Tim Pawlenty needs to say he won this session because right now, he's looking a little damaged from his overuse of executive power, and the state Supreme Court ... saying, governor, you did overstep your bounds."

It's an important win, that no future governor can overstep that boundary in that way, she said.

"What Minnesotans expect is the very thing that we went to court and fought for, which is the ability to sit down and work out our differences in a way that is going to produce a result for Minnesota," Kelliher said.

DFLers stood fast on making sure nursing home reimbursements were not cut and that the school aid formula was not cut. Two jobs bills early in the session which will create 30,000 jobs also were important, she added.

"I think it was important here to close the chapter on Tim Pawlenty," Kelliher said. "And that's exactly what was done with this budget. The chapter is closed and it's now time to open a new volume and get to work on what we want to have happen together in this state."

Y bswenson@bemidjipioneer.com

The next governor faces a multibillion-dollar deficit, and all options must be on the table, says House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher.

Republicans argue that means a return to "tax and spend" Democrats.

"The principles around balancing our budget should make sure that we include all options on the table," Kelliher said Sunday in an interview.

Kelliher, the DFL endorsee for governor, was in Bemidji on Sunday to present her lieutenant governor candidate, John Gunyou, to the DFL Central Committee meeting in Bemidji.

"We've had a governor who's been pretty beholden to his slogan, and his slogan has meant people's property taxes have gone up more than $3 billion in the last few years," she said.

She was referring to Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty's "no new taxes" pledge, which he's held for eight years.

"Don't believe anybody who comes to town and tells you they can cut 20 or 30 percent of the state budget and not have it affect you," she said. "You'd better hold onto your pocketbook because your pocketbook is going to get hit in property taxes."

Kelliher notes that Republican-endorsed Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Delano, wants to eliminate Local Government Aid to cities.

":Tom Emmer has been very vocal -- he wants to eliminate Local Government Aid," Kelliher said. "Can you imagine in a city like Bemidji what that would mean? That would be a tremendous, tremendous loss."

Cutting LGA would also affect school districts, she said, because cutting 30 percent of the state budget can't work without cutting programs for kids.

"I'm for a balanced approach, and that's what Minnesotans need to know," Kelliher said. "We need to make sure that the wealthiest Minnesotans are paying their fair share."

Kelliher would increase taxes on those making more than $250,000, after deductions. Those people "can afford to pay just a little bit more on the income tax," she said.

That differs from Aug. 10 primary opponent former U.S. Sen. Mark Dayton, Kelliher said, as Dayton's plan would increase taxes on wages over $75,000, she said. "In my world, that's not rich."

Gunyou, "like me, is a middle class Minnesotan who has raised their kids in public schools here in the state," Kelliher said. "With that, the lieutenant governor is going to take on some special roles and responsibilities in my administration. He's not being a commissioner, because I think that didn't work out so well."

Pawlenty appointed Lt. Gov. Carol Molnau as commissioner or transportation, but the Senate refused to ratify her nomination in a swirl of controversy.

The lieutenant governor will have two functions in a Kelliher administration, she said.

"First of all, is just in asking John to be lieutenant governor -- one of the best and brightest here in Minnesota," Kelliher said. "We need to build a team of the best and brightest in state government again, who are working every single day to help build back and really move forward our state and the goals that we have."

Gunyou is city manager of Minnetonka, but previous has served is financial director to both Gov. Arne Carlson and Minneapolis Mayor Don Fraser.

"The second piece that he is going to work on is a very specific thing," Kelliher said. "I think Minnesota voters want to know what value they're getting for their tax dollar and how we're doing on the big, important goals -- things like school readiness for our kids."

That includes K-12 and higher education, she said, such as if the state is graduating more two- and four-year college students today than 20 years ago.

She wants to put a performance management system put in place, "where we have the goals set by Minnesotans, with Minnesotans' input. We measure those pieces, we report back to the public and then people are held accountable."

Gunyou would head up that project, she said.

She admitted it is similar to Gov. Jesse Ventura's "Big Plan," but that the new effort will be more accountable.

Several states have such systems, she said, including Virginia where the business community is working with a Democratic governor.

"Our competitors are just not other states," Kelliher said. "They're around the world. If you don't set the goals of where you want to go, then you are not going to make it to where you need to be as state."

As to the recent session, Kelliher agreed that Pawlenty got nearly all he wanted, but said it was time to move on and not continue to fight.

What really stung the governor was the Supreme Court decision going against his unallotments of a year ago, she said.

"The court gave him a big black eye," Kelliher said. "Tim Pawlenty needs to say he won this session because right now, he's looking a little damaged from his overuse of executive power, and the state Supreme Court ... saying, governor, you did overstep your bounds."

It's an important win, that no future governor can overstep that boundary in that way, she said.

"What Minnesotans expect is the very thing that we went to court and fought for, which is the ability to sit down and work out our differences in a way that is going to produce a result for Minnesota," Kelliher said.

DFLers stood fast on making sure nursing home reimbursements were not cut and that the school aid formula was not cut. Two jobs bills early in the session which will create 30,000 jobs also were important, she added.

"I think it was important here to close the chapter on Tim Pawlenty," Kelliher said. "And that's exactly what was done with this budget. The chapter is closed and it's now time to open a new volume and get to work on what we want to have happen together in this state."

bswenson@bemidjipioneer.com

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