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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Seifert Challenges Democrat Budget Priorities

SAINT PAUL – (August 17, 2007) -- House Republican Leader Marty Seifert (R-Marshall) questioned the priorities of House Democrats today after DFLers doubled their committee budgets.

Seifert’s comments came on the heels of the DFL-controlled Rules Committee approving a near 100 percent increase in the House Committee budgets. The original budget increased from $324,000 to $646,000.

“This gross increase in legislative bureaucracy is excessive and unnecessary,” said House Republican Leader Marty Seifert. “I am shocked the House Democrats doubled their own budget at a time when families are trying to pay their property taxes and live within their means. We need investments in Minnesota, not investments in the Legislature.”

The House Rules Committee also approved a 7.75% pay raise for House employees, retroactive to August 1, 2007. In addition, Democrats approved additional pay increases to staff for 2008.

"I don't know a lot of regular, hard working Minnesotans getting back-to-back pay raises within a year,” Seifert said. "When I talk to truckers, waitresses and secretaries, I know that they are not getting these types of raises."

Another concern to Seifert is that House Democrats increased legislators’ gas payments for inner district travel. Under the formula, one rural Democrat lawmaker could take home over $1600 each month in district mileage.

"I find it ironic that the people who are trying the hardest to raise the price of gas by increasing gas taxes are the first to meet at the capitol and give themselves protection by raising their gas mileage payments, courtesy of the state treasury" Seifert said.

Seifert said he was very concerned about the timing and notice of the committee hearing. The hearing was held in a conference room without televised capability with inadequate notice to the public and little opportunity for public testimony.

"I think if the average person knew what Democrats were doing with their money, they would be outraged. Unfortunately, the Democrats think this is what voters want. They are absolutely wrong." Seifert said.

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