Memorable statements from the House debate

Watch'em yap

They were snide, indignant or just plain aggressive — House legislators going back and forth this week on the various elements in their higher-education omnibus bill.

Here are some of the more pointed (and sometimes funny) snippets that didn’t make it into my reporting. (They’re from my notes, so they’re not verbatim.)

I just hope you get their tone — but you can watch them in action here:

On cutting the MnSCU chancellor’s salary, or reducing it to the level of the governor’s:

“To give a bonus to the leader of an education system that had record increases in tuition, record increases in debt and record cuts is repellent.”

— Rep Gene Pelowski (DFL-Winona)

“Now this may shock you , but I think the governor is underpaid. The superintendent of my high school is making more than the government. I think it’s a little extreme to think we could hire a good-quality chancellor for that kind of money.”

— Rep Bud Nornes (R-Fergus Falls), chairman of the House higher-ed committee

“You said the Board of Trustees working on (improving MnSCU’s efficiency). But this is the same board that handed out bonuses.”

— Rep. Pelowski to Rep. Nornes

“I’m surprised you’re not going after coaches, because they make a lot more.”

— Nornes to Rep. Steve Drazkowski (R-Mazeppi), on Drazkowski’s (failed) amendment to slash the salary of the U president

On cloning:

“(These budget cuts) would take out $1,170 from each student (at St. Cloud State) — and you’re worried about cloning.”

— Rep. Tom Rukavina (DFL-Virginia) to Rep. King Banaian (R-St. Cloud), House cloning amendment author

“You’ve really abused your power. We’ve seen once again the cynical politics of distraction. You said you’d have a laser focus on jobs and the budget. And now you’re coming forward with social issues … to distract us from what’s really going on.”

— Minority Leader Paul Thissen (DFL-Minneapolis)

“I believe the majority of Minnesotans would say their world view is formed by their faith. So you can’t separate the two.”

— Rep. Mike Benson (R-Rochester)

“If this bill passes, we’ll suffer a brain drain, because our top instructors are already being wooed by other states. (A professor being wooed by a university in Ohio was told) “We’ve heard what’s going in Minnesota, so we expect to make more offers like this.”

— Rep. Terry Morrow (DFL-St. Peter)

“You have a bill that no one in higher education supports. The only one who supports it is the Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life.”

— Rep. Rukavina

On repealing mandates in the legislation:

“Rep. Nornes thought it important to stop mandates on the MnSCU system, and guess what he decided to repeal: mandates to buy made-in-America clothing in bookstores. We’ve got $200,000 Minnesotans laid off, and he wants to (buy) Chinese goods.”

— Rep. Rukavina

On higher education, business and the economy:

“The business community … wants educated people but doesn’t want to pay for it, cheap as they are.”

— Rep. Rukavina

“(Former Republican leader) Marty Seifert was fond of saying, ‘You can’t be pro-ag and anti-chicken. Well, I think that applies here. You can’t be for economic prosperity but against higher education.”

— Rep. Kent Eken (DFL-Twin Valley)

On state spending:

“Here we go again — blaming the people left to clean up the mess, the mess that was made. This is the kind of thing that happens when you make promises you can’t keep with money you don’t have. When a (Republican) majority comes in and has to inherit a $5 billion deficit — or spending problem, really. … tough decisions have to be made. … We’re going to be responsible. We’re going to right-size government. We’re going to live within our means. We’re not going to raise taxes … on struggling Minnesotans.”

— Steve Gottwalt  (R-St. Cloud):