What Forest? Nothing Here But A Bunch Of Trees!

As usual, when reviewing the DFL’s claims, the rule of thumb is “distrust but verify; then, resume the distrust”.

So too with DFL House Minority Leader Paul “Mini-Bakk” Thissen’s claims that the GOP budget is “destroying jobs”.   MPR’s “Poligraph” addresses Thissen’s claims.

At least, analyzes the direct claim on its face.  To really analyze it, and the DFL’s entire response to the GOP’s initiative to re-engineer how this state budgets its’ resources the money they divert from the economy, you have to dig a little deeper.

“Last week, the House Higher Ed budget put 1,200 employees at Minnesota’s colleges and universities on notice” he wrote in an April 5, 2010, press release. “The tax bill will slash another 1,700 jobs in counties and cities across Minnesota… With [the state government jobs] bill, the Republican Majority not only hands out an additional 754 pink slips, but also slashes support for private sector job creation.”

Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, is right that cutting government spending would cost jobs, but his numbers are hard to pin down.

In part because they were never meant to be “pinned down”.  Scare lines are supposed to be nice and vague.

And scare lines are all the DFL really has, this session.

Problem is, Thissen’s scare line isn’t even a good one:

The House version of higher education funding bill would cut about 17.7 percent from the University of Minnesota’s budget and mandate a tuition cap of up to 5 percent. That could mean the loss of 600 to 700 jobs, said Richard Pfutzenreuter who is the Treasurer for the University of Minnesota.

But he points out that those numbers include employees who will retire early and jobs that will remain vacant. Only a fraction will be layoffs, he said. Further, it’s unlikely the university would balance its budget only by cutting jobs, he said. Rather, it will be a mix of trims.

Meanwhile, the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) budget would be cut nearly 16 percent. As a result, the system is looking at either 554 staff reductions or 490 faculty reductions, including retirements and unfilled positions. That’s about 3 percent of the system’s 19,300 person workforce, according to spokeswoman Melinda Voss.

All told, that’s about 1,200 jobs. But Thissen’s figure is on the high end because it’s unlikely all cuts would come from layoffs. And those figures include retirements and unfilled positions as well.

In other words, Thissen is taking the “worst case” – more on that later – and putting it out there, unvarnished and without context, to disinform the voter.  And MPR is giving the reader the gentlest possible reminder to read beneath the surface.

Thissen’s numbers are based on fact, but he leaves out some important points. For instance, he doesn’t mention that it’s unlikely that the University of Minnesota will cut only jobs to save money, nor does he point out that employment reductions would be made through retirements and hiring freezes, not just layoffs. And his claim on the tax bill relies on just one source–Gov. Mark Dayton.

Given all these caveats, it was a tough call. But overall, Thissen is correct that the spending bills being debated in the House would likely mean government job losses throughout the state.


Just like cratering revenue means job losses to all of us in the private sector.

And what does the private sector do when this happens?

Not just lay people 0ff (not the smart companies, anyway); if it wants to survive, the business changes the way it does business.

And as much as it may hurt the feelings of some government workers, it’s a fact that there is a difference between the horse that’s pulling the cart and the one that’s sitting in the back cracking the whip.  Government funding exists because the private sector pulls the cart forward. Fewer horses in the cart makes the whole thing easier to pull – and, ideally, means more horses can do the pulling.

Which is something that was, to be fair, outside the scope of the MPR piece – and something Thissen wants to keep you from thinking about.

7 thoughts on “What Forest? Nothing Here But A Bunch Of Trees!

  1. It’s standard operating procedure. Like when local school districts petition the people for a referendum. They paint the most tragic scenario – we’ll have to cut wrestling and swimming and band and theatre – all the extracurriculars that make public education digestible. What’s regrettable is the media mouthpieces of the DFL report all this without critical analysis.

    Some things aren’t worth too much introspection – like bias at MPR. What we need to take solace in is the MSM is quickly becoming us.

  2. In other words, fake but accurate? That’s become standard DFL fare.

    And even things were exactly as stated, that the entirety of those jobs would be lost, is that a Good Thing or a Bad Thing?

    Are we to believe the budget must be balanced with NO job losses? There is not one, single, solitary position among all the 20,000 Education jobs that could be merged, consolidated, eliminated? Not one?

    If you concede the one, Senator, you concede we’re right in principle; now we’re only talking about a matter of degree. And that’s not our job – that’s why we hire expensive administrators, to run the place with the budget we give them. They get paid to make the hard choices, not us. If they choose layoffs to shift funding to bocce ball, well, that’s their call.

    Of course, that explanation takes longer than seven seconds. Perhaps we should pare it down to: “Thissen, you ignorant mutt.”


  3. That’s “womyn’s” Mister Chuck! The last thing a woman wants is a “man” in her title.

  4. What? Government job losses? The horror! That could lead to Minnesota not being the largest employer in Minnesota! This risky scheme must be thwarted!!!

  5. Big;

    Yup! I’m so used to the fountain of bull shit that is the Bloomington School Board, that their cries don’t bother me.

    I still point out to them that their “if we run our own bus service, we can save the district almost $1 M per year.” Again, a libturd controlled entity always has a different definition of saving than rational, economically literate people.

    That said, I still get a little chuckle about the bio diesel fiasco a couple of winters ago! That fuel, that they had to buy for environmental responsibility, turned to jelly in the tanks in sub zero weather. God, libs are morons!

  6. “And as much as it may hurt the feelings of some government workers …”

    Government unions are bad for yet another reason: they provide another layer between employee and employer, typically working to undermine the relationship between the two. Despite this, thoughtful government workers understand that they are in the cart, and recognize who is pulling them.

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