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Editorial: A failure of state leaders in Minnesota

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opinion Willmar, 56201
Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

Minnesota's leadership on both sides is lacking, if not failing, this year. It is no more evident than in the state budget negotiations of the past six months.

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The Republican majority in the Legislature has been stuck on their "live within our means" campaign promises.

DFL Gov. Mark Dayton has been stuck on his campaign promise to "tax the top 2 percent."

Unfortunately, our state's leadership this year faced the task of paying the bill on the past eight state budgets. The reality is that Gov. Tim Pawlenty and those Legislatures used accounting tricks and stimulus funding to balance budgets and just kicked tough decisions to the future.

Budget talks continued Thursday evening as of thewriting of this editorial. There were hints that the two sides were closer to agreements as legislative leaders Thursday called members back to St. Paul.

That is a good sign, but no special session had been called of this writing.

The sad fact is that the state budget mess of 2011 should never have reached this point.

Every GOP and DFL legislator and Dayton should be ashamed for not getting their primary job done -- reaching a balanced budget agreement.

It is time to get realistic and forget your political goals.

GOP legislators argue that $34 billion is the largest state budget ever and that should be enough. They fail to realize that the last two years has increased demands and increased costs in the state budget, such as rising energy prices or more people in need during this recession. They also fail to recognize that the previous state budget included $2.3 billion in federal stimulus funding and a $1.9 billion school payment delay.

DFL supporters argue that the top 2 percent should pay their fair share. Dayton has stuck too long to this strategy. State business leaders are concerned about competitiveness and there is zero support for this strategy on the GOP side.

Minnesota's state budget should have been balanced weeks ago. Simply, our state leaders should each be ashamed of their performance in the 2011 session.

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