Column: Budget, jobs must dominate ’11 sessionEveryone knows Minnesota faces an approximate $6.2 billion budget deficit. In years past when we faced a shortfall, lawmakers would sit around and wait for the updated forecast in February before actually beginning to address the problem.
By: Tim Kelly, Red Wing, The Republican Eagle
Everyone knows Minnesota faces an approximate $6.2 billion budget deficit. In years past when we faced a shortfall, lawmakers would sit around and wait for the updated forecast in February before actually beginning to address the problem.
We might not have the exact numbers for February yet, but we certainly know what the issue is.
We have to change the way Minnesota spends money. Which is why House File 2, a bill that institutes priority based budgeting, will receive a floor vote in the coming months.
On its face, priority based budgeting sounds cliché, but it’s simply common sense.
As we continue to have repeated budget deficits, we have to make decisions to fund only the things that are most important. We can no longer accept that all state government programs need to receive funding increases every year.
Specifically, the bill would require the Legislative Commission on Policy and Fiscal Planning to set budget priorities beginning in 2014 and 2015. It also would force an audit of other state agencies and policy boards to determine whether they should be abolished, reorganized or continued.
If your family is struggling financially, you have to make spending decisions to make your budget work. You may have to decide whether to stay at home as opposed to going to the restaurant, watch a movie on TV versus go to the theatre, and a vacation may not be in the budget this year. You personally make these decisions using a priority-based budgeting approach.
Government should be making similar choices because it simply cannot afford every program that’s currently being funded.
We’ve seen business owners in the private sector make these tough choices again and again over the past few years. As we face another unprecedented economic crisis, it’s time for state government to follow suit.
It’s also time for state government to do more to create jobs to help us end this cycle of budget deficits.
One of the easiest ways to accomplish this would be to get out of the way and stop blocking potential job growth.
Minnesota’s permitting process is cumbersome and unpredictable.
While some entrepreneurs can obtain a permit within a few months, we’ve heard horror stories from other business professionals who have waited well over a year to get the go-ahead from the state to expand their company.
In my opinion, this is unacceptable because it’s caused many jobs to leave Minnesota and delayed many more from being created.
Recognizing this, the Minnesota House has taken a big step toward improving our job climate by submitting a bill that will streamline Minnesota’s permitting procedures. Under the proposal, business permits would have to be approved within 150 days by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and Department of Natural Resources, or else the agencies would be forced to address why they are delaying the process.
It’s time Minnesota embraces those who want to expand their businesses or relocate here as opposed to making it as difficult for them as possible. If we want our economy to turn around, then we have to put more people to work.
With more than 1,700 jobs now being held up in this state due to permitting inefficiencies, it’s clear the current procedures are not working.
There is no doubt that we will maintain Minnesota’s high quality of environmental protection as this process moves forward, but we can no longer afford to send job providers to different states only because state agencies didn’t see the urgency to approve a business permit.
Tim Kelly, R-Red Wing, can be reached at 651-380-4345 or email@example.com.