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Bachmann adds support to Pawlenty spending cap amendment

U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota listens to a speaker Monday who supports, like she does, a proposed constitutional amendment that would limit state spending. (Photo by Don Davis)

ST. PAUL -- U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, a frequently quoted national Republican spokeswoman, pledges to work for a state constitutional amendment limiting Minnesota spending.

The Minnesota congresswoman capped a Republican rally in favor of Gov. Tim Pawlenty's amendment proposal this morning. Her comments came moments before a Democratic-controlled Senate committee began to consider the plan.

Bachmann said government debt is doubling and tripling.

"This is fantasy economics and won't work," Bachmann said.

Bachmann about four years ago proposed a similar spending cap when she was a Minnesota state senator.

Pawlenty is on a South American trade mission this week, but the rally went ahead without him. Last month he announced a proposal to limit spending, which immediately drew criticism from many Democrats and union leaders.

Executive Director Jim Monroe of the Minnesota Association of Professional Employees today said that the spending cap "is nothing more than the same failed political gimmick conservatives have proposed as a ballot measure over the last 20 years. No amount of staged rallies and sound bites can conceal that these ballot measures either have not held up to legal scrutiny or have been voted down at the polls."

With a $1.2 billion deficit in the current two-year budget and $5.4 billion in the next budget, Monroe said, "we need action now. In the past, plenty of elected officials put their political philosophies aside and placed the needs of the state before their own because it was the right choice to make."

Monroe addressed the governor directly: "Put the citizens of this great state ahead of the national conservative movement you've been courting. Minnesotans need you to fulfill your duties as a statesman in the tradition of our great leaders, and work with the leadership of the House and Senate to solve our budget deficit now."

When he announced the proposed amendment, Pawlenty said that "state government has been on a spending binge."

Pawlenty's amendment plan, which would require legislative and public approval, calls for limiting spending during a two-year budget to the amount of revenue the state actually received during the previous two years.

The GOP governor said that for 40 years one budget has not been smaller than a previous budget until this year.

Pawlenty said that the current budgeting method relies on guesses about how much money will be available to spend, but his proposal would limit spending to known revenues.

"We need to budget not what we want to spend, but what is brought in the door," he said last month.

Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.