8:05 a.m. Minnesota House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher is giving a talk at the Humphrey Institute this morning entitled, “Leading for Minnesota’s Future.”
8:08 a.m. Speaker Kelliher compares the time of her childhood in the 1970s and early 1980s to the current budget and financial crisis today. Her family had to dig into every single savings they had to save their family farm that her parents had purchased in 1952.
8:10 a.m. Kelliher relates the state budget crisis to a rollercoaster – going up and down from surplus to deficit. The ride is keeping Minnesota dizzy as well as keeping the State from seeing the future and the challenges ahead. She says the State gets distracted by side issues and misses the big picture.
8:14 a.m. Kelliher calls for a greater investment in early childhood education to keep Minnesota more competitive in the long run. The Speaker also stresses the link between failings in education and public safety. Secondly, Kelliher says Minnesota needs to better retain its best and brightest workforce.
8:17 a.m. The Speaker says these changes do not necessarily require more government spending, but simply better policy. The renewable energy standard passed two years ago puts Minnesota in a strong position down the road, she says. Kelliher talks about Minnesota’s decision to raise its own taxes last November (for conservation and cultural funding) even when the economic slide had begun to take hold. Kelliher says public accountability and oversight had disintegrated in recent years – culminated (symbolically, and in reality) by the 35W bridge collapse in 2007.
8:22 a.m. Regarding the legislature’s recent town hall meetings held across the state, in which 6,500 people attended and over 1,500 people spoke, the Speaker says, “It is never wrong to go out and speak to Minnesotans.” The Speaker says there was a mixed message – some wanting taxes not to be raised to solve the budget deficit, and some willing to pay more to insure social services are available to Minnesotans.
8:28 a.m. In a question and answer session with Professor Larry Jacobs, Director of the Institute’s Center for the Study of Politics and Governance, the Speaker says if there were no revenue generating measures instituted this session, a 15 to 20 percent cut in programs (from K-12 to higher education) would be required to balance the budget. Minnesotans do not have a stomach for such deep cuts, says Kelliher.
8:30 a.m. When asked about what tax measures should be serious considered or enacted (income tax, sales tax on clothes etc.) the Speaker punted and said the House Tax Committee needs to take a look at these issues first. Kelliher says there is not one solution that will fix the rocky situation the State is experiencing. With regards to cutting taxes to spur on job creation, Kelliher says “This is not the year to cut the corporate tax.”
8:36 a.m. Kelliher says the Governor uses a ‘clever sound byte’ when he says the State has the 3rd highest corporate tax in the world. She says the real rate is nowhere near that high in terms of taxes actually paid by Minnesota businesses.
8:38 a.m. Regarding policies coming out of D.C., the Speaker says the stimulus package was “much needed” although it “may not be enough.” Kelliher says our nation would be able to take on more debt if it were not for the policies of the previous administration.
8:43 a.m. Jacbos draws parallels between President Obama’s budget themes – accountability and transparency, bigger government, and a fairer tax code – with the themes outlined by the Speaker in her presentation.
8:51 a.m. The Speaker does not seem to troubled by the notion that we are entering into a new era of federalism, with rules set by D.C. as to how legislatures and governors can spend money or where they can cut budgets.
9:07 a.m. When asked whether the legislature and the Governor will meet the May 18th deadline to get a balanced budget passed, the Speaker says, “I think we can make it.”