Right attitude is key as we proceed with state deficits and budgetsAs many of you are aware, Minnesota’s budget will soon be in balance after Gov. Tim Pawlenty reduces spending in several areas of state government.
By: Tim Kelly, Red Wing, The Republican Eagle
As many of you are aware, Minnesota’s budget will soon be in balance after Gov. Tim Pawlenty reduces spending in several areas of state government.
We reached this point because our legislative leadership refused to reform and modernize state government. The finance bills that were passed consisted of spending at an unsustainable rate and also increased taxes — a terrible solution given the state of the economy.
Pawlenty will soon trim the budget by $2.675 billion in the following areas:
• $300 million from local aids and credits to cities and counties;
$236 million from health and human services;
• $100 million from higher education; $33 million from state agency operating budgets;
• $1.77 billion through a K-12 education funding shift; $169 million through administrative action; and
• $67 million from refunds and other payments.
With these reductions, Minnesota will continue spending more than $31 billion every two years on state government programs.
I doubt there is one lawmaker in the state who is pleased that unallotment will take place, and those who work in city and county government, as well as human services or schools, likely share in that disappointment.
But the unallotment reaction I’m hearing so far has not been outrage — more along the lines of relief — as the financial damage certainly could have been much worse. We should all be encouraged by some of the initial reaction by many of the local government leaders across our district.
Charles Swindoll wrote, “Life is 10 percent what happens to me and 90 percent how I react to it.”
Attitude is everything. In many cases, especially in Goodhue County, that attitude is remarkable as officials were bracing for cuts that were more devastating than what the governor actually proposed.
Local Government Aid cuts were not as severe as initially projected, according to some officials. The K-12 education shift was not as deep.
Even our Social Services director sees a glimmer of hope, saying some of the cuts he had already proposed may overlap with the governor’s recommendation.
Back when I was a member of the Red Wing School Board, we were forced to do more with less funding. We were upset by this news, but accepted the challenge. In doing so, the Red Wing School District continued to develop an extremely efficient and fantastic educational product. Schools in Cannon Falls, Goodhue, Lake City, and Wabasha have done the same.
Again, no one wants program cuts or financial reductions, but those agencies receiving them can and likely will continue their track record of success as time moves forward.
The reality is that Minnesota faced a $6.4 billion deficit this session, and it would not surprise me at all if our state faces another smaller deficit when lawmakers return to the Capitol in February. These are unprecedented financial times, and everyone will need to make sacrifices until economic prosperity returns.
That’s why the governor believes state government can live on 96 to 97 percent of what its living on right now. For the first time in history, our state government will actually be reducing its biennial budget.
Many of you were forced to do the same with your own personal budgets, proving we can all get through this unallotment process — with the right attitude.
Tim Kelly, R-Red Wing, can be reached at (651) 380-4345 or email@example.com.