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 1, 2011.

 

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?  Layoffs?  Who 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 earners.

 

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