Back in the day, Representative Bob Gunther co-owned Gunther’s Foods in Fairmont and Elmore. A 2002 interview began:
Rep. Bob Gunther, like Mr. Whipple, enjoys squeezing the Charmin — and periodically poking a finger into the Pillsbury doughboy’s tummy. In fact, his calloused hands and fingers are into squeezing and poking nearly everything.
The family is out of the grocery business now, and Gunther has taken not just to squeezing job training programs, but downright poking them in the eye.
MPR report that Job training [are] a casualty in GOP jobs budget bill.
And why does job training need to be cut? Because Bob Gunther thinks Minnesota has to be more like Wisconsin:
Rep. Bob Gunther, R-Fairmont, said his committee put forward the best plan he could in light of the state's budget situation. But he said Minnesota needs to put more money in economic development to compete with surrounding states.
"You take Wisconsin; it has 48 job incentive programs that steals business from Minnesota," Gunther said. "We have 12 and one of them is neutered."
The Republicans keep saying that Wisconsin's programs steal business from Minnesota. Which businesses have been stolen because of these incentives? The poster child for their talking points seems to be a business right here in Hutchinson where I live: Hutchinson Technology, which was not eligible for Wisconsin's new tax credit/deduction incentives.
But last week in Hutchinson, HTI officials said their decision to transfer some jobs to Wisconsin (and the rest to Thailand) was due to global market demands and the types of computer parts manufactured in production lines in their Eau Claire and Hutchinson plants --and the decision of where lines were sited were made long before either Walker and Dayton were governors of the respective states. Do Minnesota Republicans want us to think business leaders are lying?
Will Gunther's proposed job training cuts have any impact on workers like those here in Hutchinson? Jeepers, apparently so. Update: I'm told by a very reliable source that Hutch's workers will not be affected. Good news! [end update]
Looking at the budget spreadsheet provided by the committee, I spotted two likely suspects in cuts to apprentice programs (-$122 million) and cuts to job re-training (overall DEED cut is $3.1 million).
And on the federal level, Republicans in the United States House of Representatives want to cut job training programs by 50 percent:
Also on the chopping block is nearly 50 percent of federal job training funding (about $2 billion). Republicans recently have a had a preoccupation with gutting job training programs. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN suggested that the government simply “eliminate federal job training programs,” while Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) said on MSNBC that job training is on the list of things he could “whack from this budget and [have] nobody feel it.”
The question of job creation--and job killing--is a complicated one, but worth asking. Over at the Same Rowdy Crowd, Joe Loveland writes in Who Are Minnesota’s Most Heinous “Job Killers?”:
These days Minnesota’s GOP state legislators mutter the word “jobs” several hundred times per day — sometimes with Tourette-esque usage and timing — to assure us how very, very committed to job creation they are. Similarly, any initiative Republicans oppose earns the label “job killing” _____ (fill in the blank).
Of course, the limitation would-be Republican and Democratic job creators both face is a big honkin’ $5 billion budget shortfall. Both of the major options for addressing the shortfall – increasing taxes and cutting assistance to Minnesota families and communities – hurts the employment picture. Both are job killing, but the question is, which approach kills more?
Fair question. Loveland turns to an MPR story:
While most media coverage of this debate focuses on partisan legislators’ unsubstantiated and oh so predictable platitudes, MPR‘s Annie Baxter did something really wacky the other day. She checked in with non-partisan economists.
Who were the experts and what did they say?:
The article quotes the state’s top labor market analyst, State Economist, Chairman of the Federal Reserve, and analysts at Moody’s and Macroeconomic Forecaster as saying that Republicans’ cutting of government services will hurt job creation and retention, no matter how many times they chirp “jobs, jobs, jobs” at us. Excerpts from the MPR story:
Some experts are concerned that state spending cuts would be harmful to Minnesota’s economic recovery. Their logic is that taxpayer dollars buy goods and services and pay wage. . . .
Go check it out at SRC and MPR.
Not surprisingly, Bob Gunther issued a press release in February calling Governor Dayton's budget a "job killer." Leave it to today's Republicans to love them some abstract jobs, while abandoning workforce development training for the people who might need to pick up extra skills necessary to land those jobs.
Gunther also proposes to raid $60 million from the Iron Range's Johnson Trust Fund, which mining companies pay in lieu of property taxes. Over at Minnesota Brown, Aaron Brown takes a look at the proposal in No learning curve, Melin tasked with defending $60 million in local Range money.
Update: See BSP's latest post on the proposed raid on the Johnson Trust in Rep. Gunther admits squeezing $60 million from Range's Johnson Trust Fund isn't legal. [update]
But cutting training programs for workers--while providing breaks for businesses and the wealthy-- just seems to be the GOP ethos these days. Heaven forbid taxes should be raised on the wealthiest Minnesotans--who pay a smaller percentage of their income than middle and lower class Minnesotans (see Study shows who bears state's biggest tax burden). Let's take it out of the hide of the underemployed and the unemployed.
And Republican plans for swiping local and regional dollars isn't isolated to the House job and economic development committee. In GOP moves to cut light-rail money, Pat Doyle reports at the Strib:
Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin, who runs an agency that distributes sales tax money for expanding transit, said the proposal would "steal local sales tax" money to help balance the state budget.
I suppose we could start thinking of this strategy as local government aid in reverse-- with local government giving it up to the state. Sounds like a good way to stall economic recovery and growth.
Photo: From a 2002 Bizconnect interview, Representative Gunther stands by his bananas. Since those are 2002 bananas, I don't think those are the ones Representative Gruenhagen meant in his illustration for personal dietary responsibility, but with the Gruenator, one never knows.