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Dayton Threatens to Shut Down Minnesota’s Government

Governor Mark Dayton threw down the gauntlet today, telling Minnesota’s Republican-controlled legislature that he may shut down the state’s government if the legislature doesn’t obey his orders on spending:

“I am willing to debate policy proposals with you on their own merits, but I will not trade controversial policy items for spending necessary to provide critical services for the people of Minnesota,” Dayton wrote. “If you insert those policy provisions into budget bills in an attempt to force me to accept them, you will create the same impasse, which caused the state government shutdown in 2011.”

Dayton also warned that he will shut down the government by vetoing any spending bills that include across the board reductions:

The governor emphasized his point in bold text, telling Daudt and Gazelka that if they propose spending cuts, he would not accept an “arbitrary 10 percent, across-the-board reduction.”

“I insist that any budget reductions you propose explain clearly the programs and services that you wish to cut,” he wrote. “In other words, state specifically what you want state government NOT to do.”

Across the board spending cuts are generally popular, because everyone knows that state government (like the federal government) wastes a lot of money. Does anyone doubt that if they tried, state officials could squeeze 5% or 10% out of their budgets without significantly affecting performance? No.

So Governor Dayton’s challenge is based on a falsehood. While there no doubt are things Minnesota’s government is doing that it should simply stop, the more basic point is that the government should operate more efficiently, thereby achieving its current objectives at less cost. That is the point of an across the board budget cut. If Dayton shuts down our government to stop across the board cuts, voters will be presented with a crystal-clear choice. Whose side are they on, the bureaucrats’ or the people’s?

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