Column: State facing shades of ‘Groundhog Day’In the movie “Groundhog Day,” Bill Murray continues to wake up day after day only to find himself reliving the exact same day. That is, until he changes the things that will help provide for a better life and future.
By: Tim Kelly, Red Wing, The Republican Eagle
In the movie “Groundhog Day,” Bill Murray continues to wake up day after day only to find himself reliving the exact same day. That is, until he changes the things that will help provide for a better life and future.
Well, lawmakers received some grim economic news on Dec. 2, as state economists projected Minnesota to face another budget deficit. This may sound familiar as we heard the same news two years ago.
The November financial forecast indicates the 2012-13 budget includes a $6.2 billion shortfall, due largely to state government continuing to spend far more than it collects. While revenues are predicted to increase by $1.5 billion, spending for that same time period is anticipated to go up by $8.3 billion.
Factors driving this spending growth include replacing $2.3 billion in federal stimulus funds and $660 million in one-time funding reductions made last year, along with school funding shifts and continued growth in state health and human services programs.
With only $275 million left in our state’s budget reserves, there are basically two choices to eliminate the shortfall: Increase taxes or reduce spending on state government programs.
We still have far too many people who are unemployed or are working reduced hours, as evidenced by our continued lagging income tax collections, which are $471 million below the previous estimate. Raising any taxes on these folks would be a complete disaster.
Further, the electorate recently spoke, and spoke loudly, that they are tired of wasteful government spending and want some fiscal responsibility. They want their government to tighten its belt and live within its means.
Just like Bill Murray succeeding in the end, it is my hope that this is our time to get it right.
It’s time the Legislature enacts policies that encourage businesses to grow and hire more employees, and provide some certainty for businesses that are able to expand but are reluctant given current policy discussions that may sock them with higher taxes and operating costs in the near future.
Once more people return to work, they will be paying income taxes and spending more - leading to increased revenues for the state and a turnaround for our economy.
Legislative leaders will have some tough deficit elimination choices to make during the 2010 session, but there’s no doubt that job creation policies must be part of the final answer to get us past our own Groundhog Day.
Please let me know what you think.
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