Minn. lawmakers fail constituents

Published 6:51 am Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Daily Herald editorial

Failure. That is the only word that adequately describes the efforts to date of Minnesotans’ elected representatives to develop revenue and spending budgets for the state. Lawmakers – the senators and representatives who were sent to St. Paul to manage this task – have not done their jobs. Gov. Dayton, elected to manage this task, has not done his job.

Most of the blame, or course, lies with the Republican majority that controls both houses of the Legislature. This is a majority which, despite months to prepare, began the session with no coherent plan for addressing Minnesota’s massive budget deficit, not even a plan that matched its stated intention of avoiding new taxes. It is also a majority which frittered away countless days, weeks and months on issues unrelated to surmounting the huge budget challenge. Stadiums, social engineering and trivial legislation seemed to be more important.

The governor, who also must bear responsibility, at least offered a complete budget plan and made notable attempts to compromise – although from a position so far afield that success was unlikely.

The most that either side can say it has accomplished is extensive practice at pointing fingers and casting blame.

And, so, Minnesotans are left with the prospect of yet another special legislative session to resolve budget issues with the threat of a government shutdown looming. Tough times – and these are indisputably tough times for state government – require vision and leadership. Minnesotans got neither of those from their elected state representatives. What they got was failure.