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Tuesday Talk: What is the balanced approach?

December 07, 2010 By Rachel Weeks, Communications Specialist

Addressing Minnesota's budget deficit is the most pressing issue facing the legislature in January. November forecast numbers released last week project a grim $6.2 billion deficit for the upcoming fiscal year, it’s even higher when you add inflation. The need for a balanced approach is clear -- a compromise between revenue increases and expenditure reductions. Where do we find the compromises that are necessary?

What does a balanced approach to the state's budget look like?

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  • Celia Connoy says:

    December 7, 2010 at 9:18 am

    Take away one of the paid holidays for state employees - that will save some money.  As a former university staff member, we got many more holidays than I do now working in private industry.

  • herbert davis says:

    December 7, 2010 at 9:30 am

    A truly progressive tax system with the same percentages we had prior to Wendy Anderson and the “MN miracle”. We prospered then and we can do it again. The tax structure needed to get out of the “crash of ‘29” was what it will take to get out of this. Tough medicine for tough problems!

  • Michael says:

    December 7, 2010 at 9:52 am

    People, People, People. The 6.2 billion dollars is just money that agencies have asked for. Keep budgets right where they are and the 6.2 goes away. Our budget goes up almost 17% each cycle which means that in 20 years we will be well over 100 billion and that is just not sustainable.

    Fix our EBT Cards, eliminate corporate taxes and combine agencies and this budget becomes a surplus. We need to go after the low hanging fruit no matter how little it saves.

  • Mike Downing says:

    December 7, 2010 at 9:56 am

    I am reminded of the phrase “statistics don’t lie but liars use statistics” every time I hear about a budget deficit in MN.

    Here are the facts:
    1) Revenue for FY2010-2011: $30.493 Billion
    2) Spending for FY2010-2011: $30.266 Billion
    3) FY2010-2011 SURPLUS of $399 Million
    4) Revenue forecast for FY2012-2013 is $32.004 Billion. This represents a $1.511 Billion increase or a 5% increase in revenue.
    5)Using common business or family practices, one would increase the spending by 5% (most businesses would be conservative and increase spending by 4-4.5%). This translates into increased spending of $1.5 Billion or a budget of $31.766 Billion.
    6) There are no “cuts” in this FY2012-2013 budget, only an increase which is more than most families expect to receive.

    The only “cuts” are from a bloated & over promised DFL budget which represents a whopping 27.5% increase over FY2010-2011 spending. This is one of the many reasons the DFL was thrown out of the House majority & Senate majority on 11/2.

  • Roger Sween says:

    December 7, 2010 at 11:35 am

    Balance is a constitutional requirement. Expenditures follow from certan other constitutional requirements, chiefly educational funding and enforcement of a system of laws and consideration for transportation infrastructure.  Otherwise, expenditures need a basis from on our lives together as an associated people.  Unless we have greater agreement on the principles that underly this association, we will always be at odds over expenditures.  Let us at least not follow the budgetary dodges of the past by deferring obligations and by building up reserves for the good of all instead of the whimsey of returning surpluses to the people as THEIR money, a contradiction in terms when it is OUR money.

  • Ginny says:

    December 7, 2010 at 4:47 pm

    Lying with statistics? Lori Sturdevant in Sunday’s Trib wrote this about Pawlenty’s “self-congratulatory statement:
    “No other governor in Minnesota’s 152-year history has handed his successor a $6.2 billion deficit forecast. . . .But if Pawlenty has any remorse or regrets about passing that much trouble along to the next occupant, he didn’t display them. Instead, he boasted that he was ending his watch with the state “on the right track” and with “money in the bank.”

    That bank balance would be the $399 million forecast to remain on the state’s bottom line come June 30. It’s there in large part because of an extension of federal Medicaid help to the states earlier this year. But to hear Pawlenty describe it, you’d think he’d engineered shrewd accounting moves to keep state books in the black.

    Though Thursday’s numbers foretold a worsening problem in 2012-13, Pawlenty pronounced it “very manageable.” He allowed that most of it would have vanished already if his old nemeses, the DFLers who controlled the 2009-10 Legislature, would have done his bidding.

    You cannot compare governmental budgets to private business or family budgets. They do not serve the same functions. Businesses are set up to MAKE money. That’s not what governments are supposed to do. They exist to provide an infrastructure—physical and legal—in which citizens can operate. That includes needs of citizens—like education.
    Hardly any of the conservatives even mention what our taxes pay for, what we get, and how they think we could do without. They leave out of the equation the human beings in this state.
    As for the University cutting down on the holidays—that is just a piddle in a big pond; it isn’t a serious idea for helping the budget issue.

  • Mike Downing says:

    December 7, 2010 at 6:12 pm


    I see you cannot refute the fact that there is no $6.2 Billion dollar deficit if one assumes a 5% increase in spending over FY2010-2011.

  • Ginny says:

    December 8, 2010 at 11:14 am

    Of course not! That’s the whole point of this huge problem. Pawlenty can hardly say he is leaving the state in good shape.
    The issue is, what do we do. We cannot—even if we wanted to and many of us do not want to—cut our way to a balanced budget.

  • Mike Downing says:

    December 8, 2010 at 1:08 pm

    Ginny, Ginny, Ginny,

    A 5% growth in spending IS NOT A CUT! The FY2012-2013 proposed spending is indeed AN INCREASE of 5% over FY2010-2011 spending.

    Once again here are THE FACTS:
    1) Revenue for FY2010-2011: $30.493 Billion
    2) Spending for FY2010-2011: $30.266 Billion
    3) FY2010-2011 SURPLUS of $399 Million
    4) Revenue forecast for FY2012-2013 is $32.004 Billion. This represents a $1.511 Billion increase or a 5% increase in revenue.

    Look at the numbers & facts and stop relying on only your emotional reaction to DFL talking points.

  • Ginny says:

    December 8, 2010 at 3:17 pm

    That increase does not cover the budget that is needed, Mike Mike Mike.
    It does not account for all the money the school system loaned to the
    state budget. In this case, 5% growth is a cut, despite what Emmer and
    Pawlenty claim.

  • Ginny says:

    December 8, 2010 at 3:18 pm

    I forgot to mention my “emotional reaction” in place of facts. If
    I had time, I could look up not just the facts but the analysis that the
    so called facts show, but I can’t right now.