For more information contact: Michael Howard 651-296-4169
This past week state economists delivered the yearly economic forecast to project Minnesota’s budget and state of our economy. It confirmed the bad news that you most certainly already knew – we are in the middle of serious national recession and it’s significantly affecting Minnesota.
With our economy in turmoil, it is more important than ever for our state leaders to be upfront and transparent about the challenges ahead. And while there is no silver bullet or quick fix that can turn our economy around, I am confident in our ability to think our way through this problem. We need to explore every option and innovative idea to responsibly address our budget deficit in a way that prepares us for sustainable economic prosperity.
Specifically, the forecast showed a projected budget deficit of about $400 million for the rest of the 2008-09 budget cycle and a more troubling $4.8 billion for the 2010-11 budget cycle. Unemployment is at twenty year high and we are projected to lose 77,000 more jobs next year.
We’re not the only state in budget trouble. In fact, 41 other states are expected to run a budget deficit next year. However the recent forecast showed that for the first time on record, Minnesota lagged behind national economic average two years in a row. We need to make fundamental changes to the way we structure our state budget and that starts by looking at our budget in terms broader than a two-year budget cycle.
State economist Tom Stinson has said the reason Minnesota for decades has been a national economic leader due in part to the forward-thinking public leaders who invested in education and infrastructure, laying the groundwork for the one of the most highly qualified and competent workforce in the nation. Whatever budget fixes we consider, we need to ask ourselves how it will impact the future economic prosperity of our state.
In addition, we must work in concert with local, state and federal leaders to create jobs and make sure our most vulnerable citizens are being taken care of. In a recession, job losses and strained family budgets lead to an increase in people filing for unemployment benefits and those who need assistance for health care. President-elect Obama has discussed a federal initiative that would spend over $100 billion for infrastructure projects across the country to create more jobs and over $40 billion for Medicare. We will work hand-in-hand with federal leaders on an aggressive plan to help Minnesotans weather this in the short term.
I have abiding faith in our ability to master this challenge. In the coming weeks, we will learn more about the state budget picture and I will update you as more information becomes available. I want each of us to have a clear perspective of the budget and our options to resolve the deficit. In the meantime, I would like to hear from you about how the economic recession is impacting you, your job and your family. Your input will be invaluable as we together push forward and make the critical choices necessary to secure Minnesota’s future economic prosperity.
Rep. Erin Murphy
St. Paul, District 64A
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