Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak entered the state budget fray today, one day after Gov. Pawlenty criticized the fiscal discipline of Rybak and other Minneapolis elected officials. As I read the news release, I couldn’t help but think of a possible showdown in 2010.
Here’s the release:
(Note, the links and bold face were embedded in Rybak’s news release. I did not provide any of the links or emphasis).
Mayor Rybak Urges Governor Pawlenty to Follow Minneapolis Example of Budget Responsibility
Governor’s Inaccurate Criticism Fails to Change Reality of State Budget
February 26, 2009 (MINNEAPOLIS) — Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak today responded to false statements made by Governor Tim Pawlenty that were critical of Minneapolis and Mayor Rybak’s fiscal discipline, at a time when the State faces a massive deficit and the City budget is balanced.
At a press conference in Rochester, MN yesterday promoting transportation projects to be funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Governor Pawlenty inaccurately misrepresented Mayor Rybak’s 2009 budget proposal, a balanced budget that was revised due to cuts brought about by the State’s nearly $5 billion budget deficit.
“At a time when the State is in the middle of another massive deficit, Governor Pawlenty should not be giving financial advice, especially when that advice is based on misinformation,” Mayor Rybak said. “I put Minneapolis’ fiscal prudence up against the State’s any day.”
“Despite facing $30 million in state funding cuts, the budget I delivered will not include significant cuts to public safety,” Mayor Rybak said. “We accomplished this enormous task because the City’s finances are strong and we have done the hard work necessary to weather these difficult times.”
“Spending for public safety in Minneapolis has grown consistently in spite of massive funding cuts from the State,” Mayor Rybak said. “As a result, violent crime is down in Minneapolis for the second year in a row by more than double digit percentages. Look at my budgets and look at the crime stats – the focus and results are clear.”
Public Safety is the #1 Budget Priority in Minneapolis
CLAIM: Governor Pawlenty charged that Mayor Rybak had not prioritized public safety in this or past budgets and wrongly suggested that Mayor Rybak had proposed laying off police officers.
FACT: Mayor Rybak’s 2009 budget had no police layoffs and included the largest investment in public safety – including more than $128 million for the police department and the largest sworn police force – since Rybak was elected in 2002.
CLAIM: Governor Pawlenty also said that Mayor Rybak’s budget should have “downsized” the City’s Civil Rights Department because of an overlap of services with the State.
FACT: Mayor Rybak’s budget did just as Pawlenty suggested by transferring the Civil Rights Department’s complaint investigations division to the State, even though Governor Pawlenty has proposed cuts to the MN Human Rights Department.
CLAIM: Governor Pawlenty also wrongly criticized Mayor Rybak for supporting “a department that relates to the cultural and artistic affairs.”
FACT: No City department actually exists. Mayor Rybak closed the City’s Office of Cultural Affairs in 2002, one month after taking office. The City now has just two arts related staff positions, one to coordinate film projects as an economic development tool and another to coordinate public art.
Fiscal Responsibility: Comparing Minneapolis vs. Minnesota
FACT: The State of Minnesota is facing a budget deficit of nearly $5 billion. Mayor Rybak’s 2009 budget for Minneapolis is balanced, as was every previous City budget he delivered.
FACT: Minneapolis sends more money to the State than the State sends to Minneapolis. The State of Minnesota collects about $74 million from Minneapolis property taxes and $390 million in sales taxes. In return, Minneapolis is slated to get $71 million in local government aid from the State.
FACT: Spending by the State has been increasing faster than spending by Minneapolis. Over the past five years State spending, adjusted for inflation, has increased 11 percent, which is 8 percent more than spending in by City of Minneapolis, which increased 3.5 percent.
FACT: Since 2002 Minneapolis has eliminated nearly $90 million in debt, reformed and restructured City government finances, and delivered City services more efficiently. This fiscal management, combined with one-time economic recovery dollars from the federal government allows the City to protect public safety in spite of State budget cuts caused by their deficit.
“Unfortunately for Minneapolis and other cities across Minnesota, the State budget keeps lurching from crisis to crisis,” Rybak said. “Minnesota’s budget has not had the same long term fiscal stewardship as Minneapolis has had. For too long, Governor Pawlenty has used short term budget fixes and avoided making fiscally responsible choices. Today’s State fiscal crisis, like the one that happened in 2003, and one we can probably expect a few years from now, could have been partly avoided if the Governor adopted some of the long term fiscal management that has helped us restore fiscal stability to the City of Minneapolis.”
See relevant graphs attached separately. For additional graphics and background on Mayor Rybak’s revised 2009 budget proposal visit www.MayorRybak.us.
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I’m sure Pawlenty will have some sort of response to Rybak on his Friday morning radio show. It’s nearly certain that he’ll bring up Local Government Aid since LGA supporters have a major news conference scheduled for late morning.