Kitchen Table Talk!
I just got back from AFSCMEís Day on the Hill. It was difficult for me
to motivate myself to go this year, but I am very happy that I showed up. Our
members who put it together with Council 5 staff, as always, came up with a very
good message, ďFor a Better MinnesotaĒ.
How do we get there? That is the conundrum. We are into the biennium, and
now we know that there is a $1.2 billion deficit for this yearís two year
biennium, and a projected $5.4 billion deficit for the biennium beginning July
This summer the legislative workgroups learned what will happen if GAMC
really does go away, and came back with an imperfect fix. Even with the
information available to the Governor - including testimony from law enforcement
officials supporting the importance of GAMC - the Governor vetoed the partial
fix. The man who said states should be able to refuse heath reform in their
states should it pass, has put Medicaid dollars into his budget that have not
been extended as yet.
To me, anyone still in touch with a modicum of common sense would realize
that the no new taxes pledge is the contemporary version of fiddling while Rome
burns. Having said this, there seems to be far too many fiddlers in St. Paul
this session, or too few leaders willing to go district to district and tell
people what will be lost if there is no new revenue.
I was fortunate to talk with some elected officials known for common
sense, a willingness to analyze the rhetoric and a willingness to speak up. For
instance, some say that when families need to balance their budget, they sit
down and figure out how to spend less. This elected would say that is only half
the picture because families do look at how to spend less, but they also look at
how to bring more money into the household. Those who are saying the only answer
is to spend less are only looking at half of the picture. I know this elected
and a few others will not be afraid to stand up and repeat this story. What
about your elected official? What would he or she say? If you didnít go to Day
of the Hill, you can still call, write, email, or meet with your elected. Ask
them what their balanced approach to deficit reduction looks like. Are they
fiddlers or are they leaders? Are they people who represent your values? Do they
need to be replaced?
If the Governorís proposed budget goes unchallenged, are we looking at
more Special Leave Without Pay? Furloughs?
knows? And, what about our clients?
Iím going to end with some statistics. This is not my forte, so please
challenge what I am about to say if I goof up the numbers. Here goes:
In the US, 1/10 of 1% of the entire population controls 70% of all the
wealth. Breaking this down to Minnesota numbers, this means that approximately
5,000 people control 70% of the wealth in Minnesota. This number includes
children and the elderly. So we are probably talking about 2,000 adult wage
Donít you think they could contribute a little revenue? If we just went
back to the pre-Jesse Ventura tax levels, we would all pay a little more, and a
considerable amount of the deficit would be resolved. If these 2,000 adults
would chip in a little more, we might not have a deficit at all. Think about it,
and after you think about, take an action. Thatís kitchen table talk!
~ Vicki Moore, Local 34 Vice President