Mark Dayton is scheduled to present his budget tomorrow.
Let’s take a walk back through recent history. We’ve been down this road twice before.
The First Dayton Budget: Immediately after the party conventions last spring, Mark Dayton released a “budget plan” that, a fairly casual examination showed, deserved the scare quotes I just gave it.
It was three billion dollars short of balancing the forecast shortfall – the $6.2 billion “deficit” in paying for the wish list the DFL kicked down the road after the 2010-2011 biennium – and that was only if you left out some gaping holes in his assumptions (that taxing “snowbirds” is legal, that the state can cut contractor expenses on work that is largely legally-mandated and for which by law no state workers can be currently qualified, that cutting “patronage” jobs will rack up a lot of savings, that the feds will look the other way when Dayton eliminates the testing that is the cornerstone of the feds’ accountability standards, that jacking up licensing fees would shake lots of money out of Minnesota businesses without driving them across the river into Wisconsin or the Dakotas, that the state could violate the law in setting up a teachers health insurance pool, and many other gaps. Calling it three billion dollars off was a complete gift.
If At First You Don’t Succeed: And then – after Tom Emmer released a coherent, detailed, balanced budget plan – Dayton tried again. And his second attempt was, by Dayton’s own admission, almost $900 million short; the real figure was well over a billion dollars short, and that’s even if all the assumptions above (before “strike one”) didn’t happen (they will), and the “wealthy” – Minnesotan couples whose income is over $130K a year – don’t move themselves (as “the rich” in Oregon did) or their money (as Mark Dayton himself does) elsewhere, which they will.
So given that Mark Dayton has never once submitted a budget that came within a billion dollars of granting his supporters their wish list, and given that his State of the State address telegraphed a “spend like it’s 1972!” approach to the issue, what do you suppose the odds are that tomorrow’s budget will be ready for prime time – other than, of course, by lowering the defintion of “the rich” to “people with jobs?”