At virtually every stop thus far on the tour people have been talking about the most vulnerable people being the targets for these cuts and how they have been cutting their local budgets for years leaving nothing left to cut. In Bemidji, a few years back they had 120 employees we were told, and now they have around 80 doing the same work in a town that is growing. Which makes Representative Morrie Lanning’s record of quotes fairly interesting.
From the Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, 5/16/2009:
He said he always has been open to tax increases if he believes that spending is reduced wherever possible and government is reformed. Democrats have not offered enough of either, he said.
From Capital Chatter, 5/12/2009:
"I want to make sure we are doing all we can do to lower our costs and reform how we are doing business," Rep. Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead, said before he would consider a tax increase.
So Morrie got what he wanted and Tim Pawlenty cut $50 million from the Minnesota State University system which is hitting Moorhead State hard.
Edna Szymanski, the new president of Minnesota State University at Moorhead, had a different situation to deal with: a deficit and a subsequent hiring freeze. Between that and the new budget, Szymanski said: “It’s my job to say, ‘No.’”
Szymanski said that she and her fellow system presidents were told to expect bad budgetary news. She said that the previous deficits combined with the new figures will probably mean about a $9 million hit. “It was our job to keep the university alive during the recession and we did.”
Places that have ways to lower costs left available to them don’t talk about finding a way to keep their institution "alive". Especially when it’s an institution of higher learning, the engine for future growth in this state, struggling to survive puts us in no position to compete in a hyper-competitive global market place. Rep. Lanning can try and waffle on his openness to making our tax system more fair, but the bottom line is he sided with Gov. Tim Pawlenty in putting MSU-Moorhead on life support.