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State Representative Bob Gunther

563 State Office BuildingState Office Building
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
651-296-3240

For more information contact: Jason Wenisch 651-296-2317

Posted: 2009-01-26 00:00:00
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NEWS COLUMN

FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY WILL SOLVE THIS BUDGET CRISIS


Minnesotans are hurting.

Their incomes are flat. Their expenses are escalating. Their retirement plans are tanking.

Some are losing their jobs due to slow business; others are unemployed because their company is leaving the state altogether due to our unfavorable business climate (high business taxes).

Minnesotans want their state legislature to stop the bleeding. This will be difficult as Minnesota is facing a $5 billion budget deficit – and that number is likely to rise significantly following our February budget forecast.

So how can government help solve these problems? By putting more people to work, reforming the way Minnesota spends its revenue, and becoming more fiscally responsible.

Two years ago, our DFL-led legislature inherited a $2 billion surplus and spent it. In addition, it increased state spending by nearly ten percent, from $31.5 billion to $34.6 billion.

Thanks to these decisions, the $2 billion surplus became a $1 billion deficit the very next year. Instead of making real spending reforms, our leaders solved this problem last May by making $355 million in spending cuts and draining $500 million from the state’s rainy day fund.

Instead of making tough fiscal choices, the Legislature took the easy way out. Now we’re spending money faster than we can collect it - roughly $2 million PER DAY.

Soon the majority party will tell you about the need to “increase revenue” to solve these problems. That’s a fancy way of saying “raising taxes.”

That would be another easy way out.

Minnesotans deserve better.

They deserve a government that recognizes their financial pain and refuses to make their lives even more difficult. They make tough decisions on how to spend their paychecks, and expect government to do the same.

Minnesota has many wonderful government programs that are beneficial to people around the state. But with this mammoth deficit only the most beneficial programs are going to survive. Some will be pared or cut altogether so your government can balance the books.

Investing in job creation will solve many of these deficit problems. Redirecting current spending to create a more favorable business climate will allow this to happen.

If more people are working at a good paying job, fewer Minnesotans will need to utilize welfare and public health insurance programs, thereby lowering those state expenses. Meanwhile, they’ll be paying income taxes on their salaries, while spending more on goods and paying a sales tax. All of this means “increased revenue” to the state – without tax hikes.

The DFL will be selling hope this session, hoping you’ll believe a larger government means better things for your family.

I’m selling reality. If you lose more of your income while you’re already struggling financially, how have you improved?

Government got us into this fiscal mess, so government should get us out of it. We need rational spending on the programs that are the most vital. We need to stop thinking that the taxpayers should be forced to bail out the government.

We need a long overdue dose of fiscal responsibility.

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