Leidiger’s E-Mail Torpedo of Not Really the Truth

Rep. Ernie Leidiger released his weekly e-mail update today.  Although a freshman in the House, Leidiger has already learned the tricks of the trade when it come to hiding the real impacts of the policies he supports.  Let’s look at a few of his claims:

The House transportation bill preserves current systems and boosts local road funding while halting light rail expansion the state cannot afford to build or operate.  The bill also gives Greater Minnesota transit funding a $1 million increase. 

Leidiger is correct — the GOP-passed budget bills do increase local road funding by $125 million over the next two years.  What he fails to point out is that is the exact same increase advocated by Governor Mark Dayton.  Leidiger and the GOP did nothing out of the ordinary with these bills. 

Leidiger is also correct that the House GOP transportation bill hikes Greater Minnesota transit by $1 million over the next two years, but fails to mention that amount trails both Gov. Dayton’s recommendation and that of Senate Republicans, who increase that funding by $8 million.

Leidiger’s pride over ending funding for additional light-rail projects is misplaced.  The Twin Cities, with a population of over 3 million people, can’t be expected to thrive on roads alone.  The Central Corridor and Southwest Corridor projects need to move forward. 

The state government bill reduces agency spending by over 30 percent and contains perhaps the most reforms out of any piece of legislation in recent memory, including:

  • 15 x 15 Initiative (15% reduction of state workforce by 2015)
  • State employee pay freeze for two years
  • Sunset Commission to review and retire unnecessary state activities and spending, identify opportunities for innovation and drive continued reform

Leidiger shows his pride in a bill that dictates a 15% reduction in the state workforce, but hasn’t yet identified  any unnecessary state activities.  Once again, Rep. Leidiger and his GOP associates show that they’re better at talking the talk than walking the walk when it comes to making government function like a business.  Without that review of state activities up front, there is no way to know whether or not the 15% target is achievable.  It’s just a number plucked from the air. 

Does Rep. Leidiger run his own business that way, based on numbers that have no basis in analysis or reality?  If you’re a state employee, get ready for a great future — cuts of 30% of your budget, 15% of your colleagues will be going away, and you won’t get a pay increase to cover your increased work.  I bet that will do wonders for keeping talented folks in the state’s employ.

Finally, our HHS bill.  This legislation does what no bill has ever done before, cutting almost $2 billion in state spending.  While protecting priorities like seniors in nursing homes and the disabled, the bill reduces projected spending increases by 15 percent and sets our state on a sustainable path.

Let’s review the sorts of cuts that are in the HHS bill, shall we:

  • Meals on Wheels ($2.7 million; 50% cut)
  • developmental disability family supports ($4.1 million; 50% cut)
  • child care service developmental grants ($500,000; 100% cut)
  • child care resource and referral grants ($1.5 million; 100% cut)
  • subsidized adoption grants ($5.3 million cut)
  • American Indian Child Welfare Program ($9.5 million; 100% cut)
  • aging prescription drug assistance grants ($1.8 million; 100% cut)
  • adult mental health crisis grants ($1.5 million; 100% cut)
  • caregiver support grants ($952,000; 100% cut)
  • relative custody assistance grants ($1.5 million cut)
  • child welfare reform/prevention & early intervention ($1.6 million; 100% cut)
  • Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (100% cut) funds  
  • Statewide Health Improvement Program grants (100% cut)
  • state loan forgiveness programs for medical training that maintain the state’s ability to recruit and retain health practitioners in geographically underserved urban and rural settings (100% cut)
  • repeals the Early Expansion of Medicaid 
  • families and children on Medicaid with incomes above 75 percent of the poverty rate ($13,898 for a family of three) would be dropped from Medicaid
  • the same would apply to all those on MinnesotaCare with incomes above 133 percent of the poverty rate
  • eliminates optional services like eyeglasses, contact lenses and prosthetics for Medical Assistance and MinnesotaCare recipients

These are the sorts of priorities that Ernie Leidiger is standing up for, the sort of “sustainable path” he endorses.  Leidiger voted to give businesses a tax cut and against fully funding Meals on Wheels or paying for eyeglasses for poor people.

And it gets worse.  The bill doesn’t even deliver on the $2 billion in savings that Leidiger promisesUp to $1.2 billion in savings claimed by Republicans is “not substantiated by completed fiscal notes”, according to the fiscal analysts in the Management and Budget office.

For too long, government has made promises it cannot keep with money it does not have.  In the last decade alone, health and human services spending has increased 109%.

What Leidiger fails to mention here is that the national cost of private health care insurance over that time has increased by 131%.  So, in fact, Minnesota’s state government has been doing a better job than private insurers of controlling health care costs, and that’s despite the fact that government health plans are typically responsible for the poorest and sickest among us.

In sum, the House Republican budget is a fiscal responsible approach that puts a lid state spending, promotes reform and helps improve Minnesota’s business climate by letting families and businesses keep more of your hard earned money.

As we’ve shown, the Republican bills do nothing of the sort.  Leidiger and his GOP colleagues, though, show a Charlie Sheen-like devotion to the alternative reality they’ve created.  Sheen thinks his “tiger blood” and out-of-control lifestyle make him some sort of counter-culture hero.  Leidiger and the GOP think that protecting the rich and punishing the poor is the path to prosperity.  They may think they’re “winning” now, but we all will lose in the end if these policies become law.

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Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Leidiger invites Bradlee Dean to give explosive invocation on floor of MN House [UPDATED] | Brick City Blog - May 21, 2011

    […] That would be consistent with Leidiger’s history supporting short-sighted legislation, making dubious claims about transportation funding,  protecting his patrons at expense of the people, backing […]

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