(I read the following on MN2020.org, and I saw that Dan touched on it yesterday here on MPP. I wanted everyone here to read this in it’s entirety, so I asked – and received! – permission to republish. TPT)

By Eliot Seide

It’s no surprise that president wannabe Tim Pawlenty urged governments to take on their unionized employees in Monday’s Wall Street Journal. He wants government to lead a race to the bottom that’s bad for our economy and bad for the entire working class.

In Minnesota, it’s unionized public workers who come to the rescue when victims of the poor economy need help. We’re the life preserver for workers who are losing their jobs, their homes and their health care.

We’re the blue-collar workers who take care of South St. Paul, while Gov. Pawlenty cuts his hometown. We keep motorists safe, while he lets their bridge collapse. We feed grandma, while he forces her nursing home to close. We staff the emergency rooms, while he cuts hospitals to the bone. We help minds soar, while he crowds classrooms, hikes tuition and closes libraries. We do our jobs, while he leaves Minnesota to crusade for his next job.

Hot on the campaign trail, Pawlenty blames us for his budget mess. He writes, “Unionized public employees are making more money, receiving more generous benefits and enjoying greater job security than the working families forced to pay for it with ever-higher taxes, deficits and debt.”

Let’s bust the myths behind Pawlenty’s propaganda.

Myth: Compensation for public employees is the cause of the state’s deficit. In fact, if Gov. Pawlenty fired all state employees, the cost savings would erase only 21 percent of the state’s $6.2 billion budget deficit.

Myth: Public employees are overpaid. In fact, AFSCME Council 5 is a union of 43,000 public and non-profit workers, who earn $38,000 a year on average. Most of us are struggling paycheck to paycheck with frozen wages, just like the average Minnesota worker who also earns $38,000.

Myth: Public employees earn more than private-sector employees. In fact, public workers in Minnesota earn 4 percent less than their counterparts in the private sector, when matched by education and experience. That’s because public workers have sacrificed wages for better benefits.

Myth: Public pensions are extravagant. In fact, AFSCME retirees have modest pension benefits of about $13,000 a year. Combined with Social Security, it’s the difference between dignity and poverty. Ninety percent of retired public workers stay in Minnesota; their pensions fuel the local economy and keep seniors self-sufficient.

Myth: Public employees drag down the economy. In fact, public employees buy necessities, not luxuries, and that’s the kind of spending that will pull Minnesota out of this consumer-driven recession. Every time Gov. Pawlenty cuts a public employee’s job, Main Street loses a customer. As more stores shutter their doors, the last thing we need is more layoffs.

Myth: Public employees are lazy. Minnesota’s state workforce is the 10th leanest and one of the most productive in the nation. Minnesota has 71 public workers for every 10,000 residents, according to the U.S. census. We’re tied with conservative Florida.

Myth: Government is growing. In fact, our state government is shrinking. Yet middle-income taxpayers are frustrated that they’re paying more and getting less. That’s because they’re subsidizing tax breaks for the richest Minnesotans. The wealth of Minnesota millionaires has doubled under the Pawlenty administration, as their state and local tax rates have decreased by 4 percent.

Pawlenty marches lockstep to the drumbeat of cheap-labor conservatives, who pit private workers against public workers. Their real agenda is to strip all workers of their wages, benefits and retirement. They want to gut the essential public services that workers need, while protecting Wall Street and greedy CEOs. Their failed plan puts the rich in lifeboats as everyone else sinks.

All workers deserve the benefits that unionized public workers enjoy. When people work union, they live better. That’s why AFSCME advocates for ALL WORKERS – not only our members. We strive for a Minnesota where all labor is rewarded with wages that can raise a family, health care if people get sick, and a retirement that’s dignified.

Workers rise or fall together. People who pit private workers against public workers are trying to divide and destroy the working class. We must recognize our common interest and stand together to fix the mess created by corporate greed.

Eliot Seide is executive director of AFSCME Council 5, Minnesota’s largest union of public employees.

(cross posted from MnProgressiveProject; comments welcome there)

…Can Reasonably Assume GOPers Are Telling The Truth

Mitch Berg is taking a turn carrying water for Boardroom Tycoons over at his blog; “right” now the water he’s carrying has to do with LGA (local government aid).

And there’s no point in trying to refute Berg with “facts.” After all, Reagan told the faithful that “Facts are stupid things” – and Berg is nothing if not faithful. IOW – Reagan said it; Berg lives it.

“Facts” simply won’t change the minds of those that couldn’t care less.

Instead, let’s take a look at what then-candidate Tim Pawlenty said while running for the corner office at the Capital, and what’s happened (can you say “Flip-Flop”?) since TBag moved into it:

It’s really rather pathetic, how low today’s Greed Over Principles party has sunk.

Reasonable people no longer can reasonably assume GOPers are telling the truth.

(cross posted from MnProgressiveProject.com; comments welcome there)

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This sign seen at the capital today:

Meahwhile, Erik Hare will be joining yours truly, the ol’ TwoPutter, tomorrow (Saturday, May 15th) as I Guest Host “Radio Cafe with Cathy Hauser” from 2:00 to 3:00 pm on AM950 – KTNF. We’ll be talking about Professor Frankfurt’s book (“On Bullsh*t”), Erik’s post over at Barataria, this post (and the subsequent comments!), the media’s role in propagating/covering BS, and how BS seems to be the modus operandi of today’s Republican Party.

For more on the media’s role on propagating BS, check out this post, over at The Cucking Stool.

We’ll be giving away one copy of “False Witness! The Michele Bachmann Story (Volume 1), to one lucky listener — courtesy of AM-950 KTNF sponsor Common Good Books – so, pay attention and call in when asked!!!

Of course, you can always just look over to the “far right” column, click on the link, and buy a copy now…

As always, call 952-946-6205 to join the conversation!

So tune in your radio to AM-950 KTNF, or listen live on your computer, here!

Also, I’d like to note that Professor Frankfurt’s Book, “On Bullsh*t”, is available locally through Common Good Books in St. Paul; if you can’t make it in to the shop, you can order on line and they’ll ship.

(cross posted from MnProgressiveProject.com; comments welcome there)

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Take a “good” look at these GOPers:


(photo by TPT)

They think the likes o’ “Billion Dollar Bill” McGuire and Stephen Hemsley of United Healthcare fame (not to mention former @MNGOP Party Chair Bill Cooper of TCF Bank) simply can’t afford an income tax increase so they pay the same effective tax rate that the vast unwashed pay.

The DFL has proposed a new tax rate of 9.15% -applied to the likes o’ the above named BoardRoom Tycoons.

Actually, it would apply to all married-joint filers declaring more than $200k in net income; income after all deductions and credits are taken.

Maybe that $200k – NET – number is too low a threshold – MAYBE.

What/where is the counter offer from The Party Of No?

Don’t hold your breath; today’s GreedOverPrinciples Party is more interested in helping the haves and have mores.

(cross posted from MnProgressiveProject; comments welcome there)

Now, I’m not one to normally post press releases; that’s what they do over at MudSlingerMike’s blog. Normally.

But, this one is too good NOT to!!!

For far too long, Democrats have deferred from hitting back and pushing back against the distortions and lies from the GreedOverPrinciples party.

Not today!

Full presser, below the fold – and TBag’s Emergency Executive Order 10-07, too!!!

Here’s the Press Release:

Subject: NEWS STATEMENT: SPEAKER KELLIHER COMMENTS ON GOVERNOR’S CABINET MEETING

Margaret AndersonKelliher
NEWS STATEMENT
Minnesota House of Representatives
District 60A (651) 296-0171
463 State Office Building, St. Paul, MN 55155
May 7, 2010

SPEAKER KELLIHER COMMENTS ON GOVERNOR’S CABINET MEETING

Governor is in a fiscal straightjacket of his own making

ST. PAUL, MN – Governor Tim Pawlenty met with his cabinet this morning to discuss the recent budget developments. Speaker of the House Margaret AndersonKelliher had this to say about the ongoing budget work at the state Capitol:

“The Governor’s irresponsible and illegal actions created this financial mess and now he refuses to come to the table and negotiate a responsible way to clean it up. His refusal to compromise on a balanced budget is a fiscal straightjacket of his own making. The state can’t afford to default on payments, and Minnesotans won’t stand for it.

“Let’s be clear: the government is not in shutdown mode. It will only shut down if the Governor wants it to – if he is unwilling to work with the Legislature on a balanced budget solution in the best interest of Minnesotans.

“The Governor must continue making payments as required by law until the state runs out of money. The Governor has no authority to pay some bills and not others – that’s what the Supreme Court clearly stated in the unallotment ruling.

“It’s time for the Governor to come to the table, and finally do the work he was elected to do: work with the Legislature to balance the state budget.

“If the governor is unwilling to put his political ambitions aside this week, we are prepared to do what’s necessary to stand up for Minnesotans.

Our schools,nursing homes, and hospitals are more important than scoring political points.”

-30-

Here’s TBag’s Emergency Executive Order 10-07 – I got it from TheUpTake.org:

EMERGENCY EXECUTIVE ORDER 10-07

DIRECTING THE COMMISSIONER OF MINNESOTA MANAGEMENT & BUDGET TO UNDERTAKE EMERGENCY CASH MANAGEMENT PLANNING FOR PRIORITIZATION OF CORE GOVERNMENT SERVICES

I, TIM PAWLENTY, GOVERNOR OF THE STATE OF MINNESOTA, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the applicable statutes, including Minnesota Statutes 2009, Section 4.035, do hereby issue this Executive Order:

WHEREAS, Article XI of the Constitution of the State of Minnesota requires that the State balance its budget for each fiscal biennium; and

WHEREAS, the Minnesota Legislature has not enacted an acceptable and appropriate balanced budget for the current Fiscal Year 2010-2011 biennium; and

WHEREAS appropriations enacted for the Fiscal Year 2010-2011 biennium during the 2009 legislative session were $2.7 billion in excess of available revenues for the biennium; and

WHEREAS, continued deterioration of the fiscal climate as a result of the historic economic challenges facing the nation have resulted in an additional deficit of $536 million for the current biennium; and

WHEREAS, the Minnesota Supreme Court issued on May 5, 2010, its opinion in the matter of Brayton et al. v. Pawlenty et al., Appellate Court File No. A10-64, which stated that “[b]ecause the legislative and executive branches never enacted a balanced budget for the 2010-2011 biennium, use of the unallotment power to address the unresolved deficit exceeded the authority granted to the executive branch by the [unallotment] statute” and thus held that the unallotment authority in Minnesota Statutes 2009, Section 16A.152 cannot be used to address the budget deficit created by the appropriations enacted by the Minnesota Legislature during the 2009 legislative session; and

WHEREAS, individuals and organizations seeking the restoration of government funding affected by the 2009 unallotment actions have threatened to seek litigation for a restoration of the unalloted funds in light of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Brayton v. Pawlenty; and

WHEREAS, restoration of the previously-reduced allotments would result in payment obligations for the current fiscal biennium greatly in excess of the State of Minnesota’s ability to pay for them; and

WHEREAS, the State of Minnesota is facing an imminent and severe cash flow crisis as a result of the potential restoration of previously-reduced allotments; and

WHEREAS, the Minnesota Legislature is scheduled for adjournment on May 17, 2010, but has still not enacted an acceptable and appropriate balanced budget plan for the biennium; and

WHEREAS, the Ramsey County District Court’s 2005 order in In re Funding of Core Functions of the Executive Branch of the State of Minnesota, District Court File No. C9-05-5928, directed that the State of Minnesota prioritize performance of core functions of government during the 2005 government shutdown when state obligations exceeded appropriated spending authority; and

WHEREAS, it is imperative that Minnesota Management & Budget identify and develop comprehensive criteria to guide in the prioritization of payment of State obligations, including those relating to the life, health, and safety of Minnesota citizens, in the event that appropriated and allotted obligations continue to exceed the ability of the State of Minnesota on a cash-flow basis to pay for those obligations.

NOW, THEREFORE, I hereby order that:

1. The Commissioner of Minnesota Management & Budget is directed to undertake emergency cash management planning as necessary to plan for the prioritization of core government services.

2. The Commissioner of Minnesota Management & Budget shall immediately prepare and review its operational plans for the identification of core government functions which would be funded on a funds-available basis should the current fiscal crisis result in appropriated and allotted spending obligations continuing to exceed funding available in the State general fund.

Pursuant to Minnesota Statutes 2009, Section 4.035, Subdivision 2, this Order is effective immediately and shall remain in effect until the conclusion of the emergency.

IN TESTIMONY WHEREOF, I have set my hand this 7th day of May, 2010.

(cross posted from MnProgressiveProject.com; comments welcome there)

First, questions not asked: Whose budget got hit, when Gov. Pawlenty diverted money from the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs (MDVA) to partially pay the salary of Lee Buckley, Special Advisor in the Governor’s Council on Faith and Community Service Initiatives (FCSI)? Lee Buckley is no longer drawing a check from FCSI; she’s now at the Dep’t of Corrections – and there is still a diversion of funds from MDVA (see below the fold), so: where is THAT money, and how is it being spent?

Second, playing the pawns. It was obvious to me that some Veterans at the hearing were more interested in carrying Gov. Pawlenty’s political water, than ensuring open and transparent governmental operations. For instance, Jerry Kyser, Former Chair and current Vice Chair of United Veterans Legislative Council of Minnesota, in a conversation at the hearing and in a followup phone conversation, made it quite clear that as an organization, UVLC wanted to kill the proposed legislation, and personally – and I quote – Jerry “detests” everything about President Obama’s “socialistic” agenda. And clearly, many veterans were mobilized for the hearing, with defending Gov. Pawlenty’s actions as a goal. From Tim Pugmire at Minnesota Public Radio:

Veterans fight back over funding criticism
by Tim Pugmire, Minnesota Public Radio
March 18, 2010

St. Paul, Minn. — Military veterans are strongly defending Gov. Pawlenty’s use of the Support Our Troops license plate fund to pay the salary of one of his office staffers.

During a state Senate hearing Thursday, several veterans said the interagency transfer was appropriate, and they instead criticized legislators for raising questions about the arrangement. (more, at Minnesota Public Radio)

But, not all. One comment I heard several times was that with the fact that Gov. Pawlenty is using hundreds of Inter-Agency Agreements totalling hundreds of thousands of dollars to shift funds the way he sees fit, why was a $30k shift in Veterans funding being singled out?

After the hearing, I called the Minnesota Disabled American Veterans (MnDAV) and talked to the Adjutant, Jeff Alger (disclosure – I’m a Member of the MnDAV). Adjutant Alger wanted to be clear that the MnDAV was most concerned that the media publicity might negatively affect sales of the “Support Our Troops” license plates, which could negatively affect revenue to support veterans. Adjutant Alger stated the MnDAV had no issue with how the funds transferred were used and took no position on Inter-Agency in general. I asked if Adjutant Alger knew if any Agency/Organization’s budget took a hit; Adjutant Alger said he didn’t know. I asked if the MnDAV would have a concern if the transfer had caused the MnDAV to receive less; Adjutant Alger said that would be a great concern (see the first question, above).

Now, on to shell games, as played by Gov. Pawlenty, with the details of the Hearing:

The Senate Finance Committee heard testimony from several state employees yesterday, including Legislative Auditor James Nobles, Department of Veterans Affairs Deputy Commissioner Michael Pugliese, and the specific Political Appointee in question – Ms. Lee Buckley – formerly a “special advisor” to the governor, and now with the Department of Corrections.

The discussion focused on the funds generated for the Department of Veterans Affairs by the “Support Our Troops” license plates.

This revenue is also shared with the Minnesota Department of Military Affairs as established by the legislation that created the new plates in 2005.

Senator Jim Vickerman (DFL-Tracy, chair of the Senate Finance Committee for Agriculture and Veterans), said the program is the most successful of the special license plate programs, and has raised nearly a million dollars in almost five years. Each Minnesotan that buys the plates pays a minimum annual fee of $30.00.

Deputy Commissioner Pugliese staunchly defended his decision to use $30,000 of the funds last year to support the part-time work of Lee Buckley, hired by the governor to serve as his Faith & Community special advisor in 2005. Pugliese praised her work and said he would “do it again in a minute.”

The veterans in the room expressed support for Ms. Buckley’s good works, and concern that the revenue could decrease from the plate sales if people have the perception that the funds are not well managed.

While the committee handouts showed how the use of Inter-Agency Agreements to provide staffing for the office of the governor has increased under Governor Pawlenty compared with Governor Ventura, there were no charts to show how the funds generated by the Support Our Troops plates are actually used. The committee focus was on what a great investment the $30K invested in Ms. Buckley’s 2009 salary was, and not in how the other $900 million generated since 2005 was allocated.

While the room was indeed full of veterans whose hats and insignia showing them as members of the VFW, Legion, DAV, Military Order of the Purple Heart, county veterans services offices, and other organizations, the 500 pound gorilla was actually missing.

The heavyweight in receiving funds and delivering services to veterans could actually be Lutheran Social Services (LSS), which has a contractual agreement to provide services to Minnesota’s veterans via a program called CORE. This program is detailed on the LINKVET website of MNDVA.

LSS has been providing social services in Minnesota for over 100 years, and has at least 11 locations throughout the state, so can provide direct services to veterans and military families much more efficiently than one person working out of the governor’s St. Paul office. LSS can provide assistance to family members, like parents, that are not provided for with programs from the federal department of Veterans Affairs. Veteran Nancy Gertner wrote about LSS last year, on MinnPost.com.

That’s the hearing, which focused mainly in the micro – one shift out of hundreds, $30k out of hundreds of thousands.

Let’s watch Senator Don Betzold (DFL-Fridley) discuss the escalation of Inter-Agency Agreements during the Pawlenty Administration, which really IS the macro of the issue – openness, and accountability:

It seems as if the focus on the micro, is distracting from the macro – the growth of Inter-Agency Agreements (shell games) during the Pawlenty Administration.

During the Ventura Administration, these shell games were played 37 times in Fiscal Year 1999, for a total of $37,000. In FY 2010, these shell games were played by Gov. Pawlenty 675 times, for a total of $702,000. In FY 2010, Gov. Pawlenty pulled out of just one Agency, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the same amount Gov. Ventura pulled out of ALL Agencies – $37k.

Sadly, the focus on the micro, has distracted from the macro – Gov. Pawlenty’s shell games.

More, later. In the meantime, here’s the breakdown of Gov. Pawlenty’s FY2010 shell games:

Interagency Agreements
July 1, 2009 – June 30 2010
Amounts Paid by Agencies to the Office of the Governor

Administration……………………………………………………………………..$72,000
Agriculture………………………………………………………………………….$20,000
Commerce……………………………………………………………….…………$35,000
Corrections…………………………………………………………………………$30,000
Education…………………………………………………………………………..$30,000
DEED………………………………………………………………………………$45,000
OET…………………………………………………………………………………$10,000
Health………………………………………………………………………………$32,500
Higher Education………………………………………………….…………….…$20,000
MN Housing Finance………………………………………………………………$12,000
Human Services…………………………………………………………………..$137,500
Labor & Industry.…………………………………………………………………..$20,000
Metropolitan Council………………………………………………………………$27,500
Military Affairs………………………………………………………………………$7,000
MMB………………………………………………………….……………………$19,000
DNR………………………………………………………………………………..$26,500
Pollution Control……………………………………………………………………$24,000
Public Safety………………………………………….……………………………$26,500
Revenue……………………………………………….……………………………$19,000
Transportation………………………………………………………………………$51,500
Veterans Affairs……………………………………………………………………$37,000
TOTAL – ALL AGENCIES $702,000

(cross posted from MnProgressiveProject; comments welcome there)

The State Senate Finance Committee’s Hearing On Inter-Agency Agreements (i.e., Gov TBag getting caught with his hands in the cookie jar is about to start.

The room is filled with lots of veterans, and many of them are none-too-happy with Gov Tbag channelling the Ghost Of Richard Nixon (“When the President does it, that means it’s not illegal”).

Full write-up, later – stay tuned!!!

(cross posted from MnProgressiveProject; comments welcome there)

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