By Rep. Bud Nornes
The real work to resolve our $5 billion state deficit will begin now that Gov. Pawlenty delivered his budget proposal. Consider the governor’s plan to be more of a starting point than a finish line.
Pawlenty’s proposal calls for a 2.2 percent reduction in state spending over the next biennium. The plan includes spending cuts in some areas, increases spending in a few others and is designed to create new jobs. The most positive thing is our deficit would be erased of with no tax increases.
One of the biggest budget questions pertains to Local Government Aid, the subsidies the state pays to some cities and counties. Pawlenty proposed a 25-percent cut phased in over the next two years and this area is likely to receive extra scrutiny in the Legislature. This subject is likely to receive heavy scrutiny in the Legislature as details become available.
Remember the governor’s proposal is a starting point for discussion. There are good points in his plan and other areas where we’ll have to work out some differences. The most important thing is establishing a plan that balances our budget today while putting us on solid ground well into the future.
That’s where things like making our education system even better come into play. K-12 Education not only was spared from cuts, the governor but the he proposes a 1.9 percent increase. Schools also could gain an extra $300 per pupil by participating in Q-Comp, the pay-for-performance program for educators.
In other news, two bills pertaining to the Green Acres program passed a House committee this week. One bill calls for a total repeal of the ill-advised changes made last session, while the other makes major changes in the bill. I’ll keep you posted as things develop.
Lastly, I recently received notice that I was appointed to the Explore Minnesota Tourism Council by Speaker of the House Margaret Anderson Kelliher. With two state parks, more than 1,000 lakes and a blossoming resort industry in Otter Tail County, I feel like this council is a good fit. This is the first time I’ve been named to this council and I’m looking forward to providing input to benefit this district.
The speaker also extended my appointment to the Legislative Commission to End Poverty.
Nornes represents District 10A in the Minnesota House of Representatives, and can be reached at (800) 336-8017 or by e-mail at email@example.com.