Five Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system trustee candidates have been approved by the Senate higher education committee — but not without concerns that one will be serving two masters.
At today’s meeting, the committee approved Duane Benson, Philip Krinkie, Alfredo Oliveira, Thomas Renier and Michael Vekich.
Sen. Sandy Pappas (DFL-St. Paul) voted against Krinkie, a former state legislator who is president of the Taxpayers League of Minnesota — a group that traditionally advocates against tax increases. MnSCU officials, on the other hand, have lobbied the legislature not to cut funding and to increase appropriations where possible.
Here’s the exchange. (Quotes are not verbatim.)
Pappas asked him:
Doesn’t this carry a possible confict of interest?
I see no obvious conflict. We (at the league) … advocate for a fair and balanced tax system. As a trustee, we do whatever we can to support the state college system. It’s your job to determine what the (state financial) allocation is and my job to (implement) it.
So your employer advocates for no new taxes. The legislature cuts the budget, and that could mean millions and millions of dollars in cuts to MnSCU. So in acquiescing in that, how is that being an advocate for MnSCU – with higher tuition, and classes cut? How is this going to be a good ending?
You and your colleagues are the ones who make decisions. I can advocate for or against tax increases. I don’t come over here and twist arms. So whatever decisions you make, … it is my job as trustee to carry those out. … I will do anything to ensure the success of (incoming MnSCU Chancellor Steven) Rosenstone regardless of what the appropriation is.
Before voting against Krinkie, Pappas also said wanted to limit the number of former legislators.
After the session, she sounded unconvinced by Krinkie’s attitude:
When the legislature is looking for cuts, you can’t just lie low. You have to fight for your share of the budget pie — which at the moment is shaky.