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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Dean Urdahl (R)

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Phase 1 to balance budget emerges

Friday, January 21, 2011
Neighbor- We unveiled a bill this week which takes immediate action to reduce our budget shortfall by $1 billion as we work to fix a projected $6.2 billion hole. The bill reduces spending for state agencies by $200 million in the current budget, makes other one-time spending cuts permanent, reduces the long-term deficit by another $840 million and prevents state agencies from unnecessary end-of-year spending. The bill mostly reflects spending levels that received bipartisan approval at the end of the 2010 session. It is good that many of our state entities anticipated these budget adjustments and have planned accordingly. This first phase of the budget-balancing plan would cancel the return of the program which uses tax money to refund political contributions. It also keeps local government aids and credits, MnSCU and the University of Minnesota at Fiscal Year 2011 levels. Furthermore, the bill gives the Minnesota Management and Budget commissioner the directive to reduce state agency spending by $200 million to help prevent agencies from draining their budgets in order to "validate" their total level of funding. Constitutional offices and the Legislature would also see a reduction to their current budgets. Removing a number of automatic increases reduces the deficit by $840 million. These are reductions already in place for this year, so we’re just making them permanent for future budgets instead of letting the spending go back on autopilot next year. Money saved now will allow us to remain committed to our spending priorities. For instance, we included a provision in the bill which indicates K-12 education, special education, and colleges and universities cannot be reduced. This bill is just one step toward closing our budget gap in a fiscally responsible, sustainable way. I will keep you posted as things develop and welcome your input. Sincerely, Dean
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