Republican Senate District 30 candidate Carla Nelson is firing back in the wake of a Minnesota DFL-sponsored direct ad that accuses her of cutting education funding. I wrote about the DFL ad yesterday.
In an e-mail, Nelson said that she believes the ad is misleading. The ad accuses her of voting in favor of cutting $185 million in education spending. Nelson argues that what she voted for was not really a cut because it was simply less than the higher amount the DFL wanted to spend on education. She adds that this came at a time when the state was facing a $4.2 billion budget deficit. Nelson said she approached her vote with two goals: protecting education and not raising taxes.
She writes: "It was a tough time for the state, and no one is claiming education received new funds. But education has been protected from cuts (although not freezes). And it has received new funds when economic times are good. Balancing the budget in 2003 without killing the economy through new taxes and without cuts to education was an accomplishment considering that K-12 education is about 40 percent of the state budget. It is also reasonable to expect our schools to deal with pay freezes, etc. just as Minnesota residents and taxpayers must do when the overall economy is struggling."
The argument over what exactly is a "cut" is a frequent one at the state Capitol. I did find this budget document from the Minnesota House's Fiscal Analysis Department which does show on page 6 that the FY 2004-2005 budget approved was less than the anticipated budget increase. Click here to Download 2003 budget summary
A Post-Bulletin story from May 23, 2003 reports that lawmakers approved a 2 percent cut to the expected amount of spending for education from 2004 to 2005.
Nelson also goes after her opponent DFL Sen. Ann Lynch saying she supported a $1 billion cut to education in 2009 and that that cut was projected to cost the Rochester School District nearly $19 million over two years. It should be noted that bill did not pass.
One things for sure — voters can expect plenty of fierce campaigning in the days to come as this race clearly has become a priority for Republicans and Democrats.