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May 09, 2011

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Gary Gross

Bluestem's note:
In the comment below, Mr. Gross mentions the letter from the American Legion's state commander, but like Senator Parry, leaves out the bulk of the text. Parry and Lanning have not agreed to sign on to the recommendations that have been offered; rather, Parry simply paraphrases the first paragraph.

From the Governor's office, here's the full letter; why won't Parry and Lanning agree to these two suggestions?:
9 May 2011
From: State Commander of the Minnesota American Legion
To: Chairman of the Conferee Committee of the Senate and House State Government and Veterans Affairs Committee.

Mr. Chairman,

You, as well as your co-chair, have openly and publicly defended your stand to hold Veterans Affairs harmless in the difficult issues of pending budget cuts this year. For that we are both thankful and grateful.

Last Friday, in testimony the Department of Veterans Affairs had to make recommended cut projections based on guidance from the administration in the event that a cut scenario played out. This is exactly what Commissioner Shellito did, and we respect his actions.

In that hearing, the House and Senate again reaffirmed their stance to hold harmless the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Military Affairs in possible cuts. The Chairman asked if anyone had any way to make that more clear to offer a suggestion. Well, sir, I would like to offer two.

#1
Add specific language in The Ominous [sic] Bill UES1047-2 on both sides (House and Senate) on page R19 when addressing any overall general cuts and on pages R20 and R21 at the opening of both Military and Veterans Affairs budgets.

To read:

"In respect to the fact we are a nation at war at the Departments of Military and Veterans Affairs are paramount in those operations providing manpower, support programs and services, the following special consideration is hereby adopted for the Biennium ending 2013: The Department of Military Affairs and the Department of Veterans Affairs are to be held harmless to any budget cuts in salary, staff, FTE, personnel, equipment, programs and or services including any reductions of deputy commissioners, or the combining of commissioners of these two agencies."

#2

A joint resolution or written agreement to hold the two departments harmless, signed by all three entities: The Senate, House and the Office of the Governor.

A resolution could read as follows and an agreement could be drafted with similar language.

WHEREAS, the state of Minnesota is facing serious budget issues which will require many agencies within state government to make cuts in various ways; and

WHEREAS, we are a nation at war; and;

WHEREAS, the Department of Military Affairs and the Department of Veterans Affairs are paramount in those operations and rightly so providing needed manpower, support, programs and services at a level like never before; now, therefore be it

RESOLVED, that the Department of Military Affairs and the Department Veterans Affairs [sic] are to the be held harmless to any budget cuts in salary, staff, FTE, personnel, equipment, programs and or services; including any reductions of deputy commissioners, or the combining of commissioners of these two agencies regardless of future legislative language affecting overall cuts for the biennium ending 2013.

Sir please consider these two suggestions as ways to make it very clear the intentions of the Senate, House and the Office of the Governor to hold the Departments harmless of pending cuts and reductions. Again we want to thank you for your understanding, respect, and support for our veterans and those currently serving

Tom Lannon
State Commander
Minnesota American Legion

pc: Office Governor Mark Dayton

***************

These are very concrete and reasonable suggestions. Why aren't Parry and Lanning agreeing to them, rather than carrying on about Dayton's tone?
*****
Mr. Gross's comment:


Actually, the proof that veterans are held harmless is provided by Commissioner Shellito's testimony, which I transcribed in this post:

http://www.letfreedomringblog.com/?p=10411

Here's what Commissioner Shellito said:

REP. LANNING: Commissioner General, you know that the Veterans budget is the only budget that got an increase and it seems to me that that sends a pretty clear signal of what our intent is that both the House and the Senate want to protect veterans and military affairs. There should be no mistake about that because it’s very clear because everybody else got cuts. If you take a look at the intent further on the House side, we’re doing everything possible we can to protect nursing homes. If you think that the House is intent on having veterans facilities suffer consequences here that would be problematic, then you’re misunderstanding the intent.

That’s why I’m disappointed that, for whatever reason, you have apparently been given impressions that are not accurate and have led to very serious misunderstanding that we need to address. If there are suggestions that we could do to get more comfort here in stating our intent, then let’s talk about that.

But let’s not go scaring people into thinking that something is going to happen when that’s not likely to happen.
SHELLITO: Rep. Lanning, I appreciate that and I understand your frustration but I would then give you my viewpoint. Yes, you’ve given us a 3% increase in the omnibus bill, both sides. Thank you.

The proof also comes from the State Commander of the American Legion:

http://www.letfreedomringblog.com/?p=10420

Dear Governor Dayton,

This morning, I received a letter from the State Commander of the American Legion that recognizes the legislature has openly and publicly defended our stance to hold veterans and the Department of Military Affairs harmless in our budget. The State Commander correctly recognized that the honorable men and women that serve in our armed forces have been a top priority with both the Senate and House for the entirety of this session.

Summarizing, the State Commander of the American Legion said that Republicans held veterans harmless. Commissioner Shellito said that Veterans & Military Affairs were getting a 3% increase in funding.

I hope this is proof enough for you to admit that Republicans held veterans harmless this budget cycle.

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    Sorensen, editor and proprietor of Bluestem Prairie, serves clients in the business and nonprofit sectors. While progressive in outlook, she does not caucus with any political party.

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