Democrats Use Yesterday’s Economic Forecast to Cover Their Broken Budget Promises
Despite yesterday’s optimistic economic forecast, the DFL led legislature and DFL Governor failed to keep their 2012 campaign promises. In 2012, DFL candidates and the Governor promised Minnesotans a balanced budget that paid back the debt we owed our schools. When the budget year ended in June, the State still owed school districts and charter schools $882 million. While the state paid down another $636 million in October of this year, it still owed our schools $246 million.
In May, the Independence Party of Minnesota announced its plans to force the state to balance its budget in accordance with the State Constitution’s balanced budget amendment. Article 11, Section 6 of the State Constitution claims that any outstanding “certificates of indebtedness” must be paid by December 1st or the State Auditor will be compelled to issue a property tax sufficient to pay off those certificates.
According to the State Auditor, legislative leaders, and other policy experts, the amendment only applies to actual certificates of indebtedness. It does not apply to delayed payments. In other words, the state does not have to borrow money to balance its budget; it can just delay paying its bills until it has the money in hand.
Unfortunately, the use of these types of accounting shifts is not just a DFL budget gimmick. During Governor Pawlenty’s terms as Governor, Republicans didn’t just delay payments to balance the budget; they repeatedly canceled millions and millions of dollars in promised aid to local governments.
Independence Party Chair Mark Jenkins noted “It should be apparent to all Minnesotans that neither the Republicans nor the Democrats have the political will to pass or enforce a truly balanced state budget. As long as Republicans and Democrats have sole control of our state’s finances, accounting shifts, delayed payments, and broken promises will be acceptable fiscal policy.”
Jenkins continued, “When the state makes a promise to pay, it needs to be held accountable for that promise. Since Democrats and Republicans refuse to hold themselves, or each other, accountable for their broken promises, we will.”
Mark Jenkins, Chair
Independence Party of Minnesota