At almost 4:00 p.m. today, after Rep. Debra Kiel (R-Crookston) introduced a bill regarding colored lights on collector vehicles, Rep. Debra Hillstrom (DFL-Brooklyn Center) had apparently had enough of Republican time-wasting tactics on the floor of the Minn. House of Representatives and said:
“Mr. Speaker and members, we are just days away from adjournment. There is not yet a balanced budget being proposed and we are spending our time on the House floor talking about lights on [collector] emergency vehicles. Members, it’s time to get down to work, and do the business of the work of the State in balancing the budget.”
She was completely ignored by the Speaker of the House, although House Majority Leader Matt Dean (R-Washington) did “move the calendar of the day be continued.”
With Republicans having spent the majority of their time in session introducing bills similar to Kiel’s, they have clearly indicated that a balanced budget is not a priority.
Without a balanced budget, Minnesota’s credit rating will continue to decline and a lower bond rating would negatively impact local governments and schools. According to Charlie Kyte, Executive Director of the Minnesota Association of School Administrators, the borrowing of every local government unit is affected by the state’s credit rating, and some school districts have already been forced to borrowed to meet cash flow needs. (Politics in Minnesota, April 13, 2011)
Shortly after Rep. Hillstrom brought attention to the fact that the much-needed budget discussion was still not happening, Rep. Joe Hoppe (R-Carver) requested a personal point of privilege. Being given the floor, Hoppe spoke about his personal weight loss goals, thanked Rep. Kiffmeyer for the Adkins Diet, then for baking bread, and also spoke about setting the record for “eating the most bread.”
With so many freshman Republicans in the Minnesota House of Representatives this year, it might be appropriate to grant them a limited forbearance regarding their inability to take seriously the privileged place they were given on the House floor. But for how long and at what cost?