I talked with a MN state legislator last night. It was a Republican from the western suburbs of the Twin Cities, by the way, although not one who is regarded as among the most conservative of the lot (and before anyone asks, it was not Rep. Banaian).
Being somewhat new to having interest in the budget process, I wanted to know more about the “Fiscal Notes” that the Democrats are yapping about.
Is the GOP bypassing them because they are products of Minnesota Management and Budget (MMB), which is a partisan office (its head, Jim Schowalter, was appointed by Gov. Dayton, who can also remove him).
“That’s part of it”, the legislator responded. But there’s more.
More important than the partisanship is the fact, says the legislator, that MMB’s modeling does not account for savings to be realized by budget changes. The models they use for calculating costs of budget iteams, in addition to being weighted toward racking up costs, do not (says the legislator) account for the money to be saved by the changes. For example, MMB’s response to the GOP’s plan to consolidate the state’s Information Technology (IT) operations, in addition to the absurd cost projections (ten people, tens of millions of dollars), ignored the savings the consolidation would cause.
Now – did the savings get ignored because the MMB’s process isn’t designed to find them, or did they get ignored because MMB is run by a Dayton appointee whose employment depends on keeping his boss happy, ergo defeating the GOP?
Distinction without a difference, I say.