Legislative Notebook: Ex-lawmakers Warn Federal Budget Woes Could Hurt

Sabo, Penny, Boschwitz

By Don Davis

Three Minnesota senior statesmen Tuesday asked Congress to find a bipartisan solution for the federal budget, warning that Minnesotans and state government face consequences if that does not happen.

“We’ve spent too much money,” Republican former U.S. Sen. Rudy Boschwitz said of why Washington got into its current fiscal problem.

To fix similar problems in the past, Democratic former U.S. Rep. Martin Sabo said, “bipartisanship succeeded.” He said that lawmakers in both parties knew they had to work together.

That is not today’s atmosphere, Sabo, Boschwitz and former U.S. Rep. Tim Penny said.

Penny is co-chairman of the national Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget and along with Sabo and Boschwitz leads the Fix the Debt Minnesota chapter (www.fixthedebt.org). Fix the Debt is an organization to educate the public about federal budget issues, encourage the public to get involved and get members of Congress to work together better.

“They sort of missed the moment,” Penny said of Congress’ failure last month to reach an overall budget deal with President Barack Obama.

With federal debt rising, Penny said that soon Washington could reduce money it sends to states. That, in turn, would affect how the state serves Minnesotans.

Penny said he wants to get state and local government officials involved in Fix the Debt to help convince federal officials of the need to act.

Democrat helps Urdahl

Rep. Phyllis Kahn is a liberal Minneapolis legislator, but reached across the aisle to host a book-signing event the other night for Republican Rep. Dean Urdahl of Grove City.

Urdahl said Kahn, one of the two longest-serving lawmakers, suggested the event. She announced it on the House floor, inviting all lawmakers.

The Republican’s latest book is “Conspiracy!” The novel is about the end of the Dakota Indian War and President Abraham Lincoln and its subtitle is: “Who really killed Lincoln?”

Its synopsis explains the novel: “A plot to kill Lincoln that reaches far beyond John Wilkes Booth, into the Masons, the Catholic Church and Knights of the Golden Circle. This is the fourth book in the Uprising series.”

Business help

Rep. Bob Gunther, R-Fairmont, is pushing a bill to give tax breaks to new and expanding businesses throughout Minnesota.

Gunther said his bill is similar to the Job Opportunity Building Zones program that is winding down. However, while JOBZ was aimed at certain areas of rural Minnesota, Gunther’s bill would allow tax breaks anywhere in the state.

With some Twin Cities Democratic backing, the bill would give tax breaks for new and expanding businesses for up to a dozen years, as determined by local government officials.