Tuesday, May 08, 2007

He's a pretty good goalie! 

At least through the first period, Governor Tim Pawlenty has proven that he can defend the goal of budget sanity. His goalkeeping caused the DFL to kick the DREAM Act to the curb (so goodbye immigration plank, after taking out domestic partner benefits a few days earlier.)

"We agreed to drop it in order to avoid the governor's veto. This is the third time he's threatened to veto the bill because of the DREAM Act. We feel very sad for students. We hope to help them on an individual campus basis," she said.

The budget all but abandons Gov. Pawlenty's ACHIEVE Two plan to allow more high performing students to take college-credit courses while still in high school. Instead the conference committee gave a $4 million boost for existing advanced high school programs.

House Higher Education Finance Committee Chair Tom Rukavina says there's no room to add on the governor's program.

"For us to do the things we want to do, especially address tuition, to all of a sudden address a brand new program, we just can't do it," Rukavina said.

The committee's version also strips out Pawlenty's idea of performance pay for talented instructors.

So he's changing shots before they even are put on goal. The bill keeps MnSCU tuition increases to a maximum of 4%, which is to me a fair compromise.

In vetoing two big spending bills yesterday, the governor made it quite clear that the piecemeal approach the DFL is using -- sending up individual spending bills without having agreed-to targets for overall spending isn't going to work.
Without an agreement on the overall state budget, I am not able to sign this bill as it spends $56 million more than my recommended budget in this area, lacks fairness in distribution of economic development funding, contains policy items that will have a detrimental impact on business, and negatively impacts efficient administration of state programs.
Emphasis mine. And here:
The basic structure of the bill is flawed. It relies on unrealistic revenue projections to increase spending beyond sustainable levels, pumps vast amounts of funds into the Legislature's own budget, and both underfunds and undermines the work of the executive branch.

Even if these provisions were to be fixed, however, I am unable to approve this bill until the Legislature more fully identifies an overall budget plan. Only in that context can we, and the public, understand the choices involved in the remaining budget bills.
I think this point has been underreported: The DFL Legislature has sent spending bills forward without an overall budget agreement (this had been what was holding up the higher education bill, which now seems to be ready to vote.) I applaud the governor for asking for an overall budget first, to hold the Legislature to its own rules:
4.03 WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEE; BUDGET RESOLUTION; EFFECT ON EXPENDITURE AND REVENUE BILLS. (a) The Committee on Ways and Means must hold hearings as necessary to determine state expenditures and revenues for the fiscal biennium. (b) Within 25 days after the last state general fund revenue and expenditure forecast for the next fiscal biennium becomes available during the regular session in the odd-numbered year, the Committee on Ways and Means must adopt a budget resolution. The budget resolution: (1) must set the maximum limit on net expenditures for the next fiscal biennium for the general fund, (2) must set an amount or amounts to be set aside as a budget reserve and a cash flow account, (3) must set net spending limits for each budget category represented by the major finance and revenue bills identified in paragraph (e), and (4) may set limits for expenditures from funds other than the general fund.
The last forecast was given on April 10, meaning the Legislature should have had these spending limits set by May 5. Once again, poor clock management by the Legislature has put all these spending bills in peril and raise the probability of a special session.

The governor is simply asking the Legislature to follow its own rules and conduct itself responsibly, rather than react to vetoes with histrionics.

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