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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Steve Drazkowski (R)

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Thursday, March 5, 2009
In theory, Minnesota’s latest budget projection is better than it could have been. In reality, the revised amount is more staggering than you may have been led to believe. State economists said the February financial forecast for Fiscal Year 2010-11 would have shown a $6.393 billion deficit, but if Minnesota relies on $1.8 billion in federal funds - which it will - the latest deficit projection stands at $4.57 billion. The thing I’m concerned about is that this is one-time money from the federal government, and that there are strings attached if we are going to utilize it. This funding will preserve and expand programs like Medical Assistance by more than $1.3 billion over the next two years - and spending in this area is already out of control. The federal money is a temporary fix, but does nothing to address our state’s long-term spending problems. In Fiscal Years 2012-13, revenues are now expected to be $5.133 billion less than projected expenditures before adjusting for inflation, creating an even bigger mess once the federal funds have dried up. That’s why the time has come for legislative leadership to quit sitting on its hands and bring forward a proposal that balances the state’s budget. It’s time to lead, and it’s time to make tough decisions. In my opinion, tax increases should not be considered. This sour economy has had a devastating impact on businesses. It’s forced many companies to cut jobs and reduce salaries. One business owner I talked with now only stays open 3 days a week thanks to poor economic conditions. Many businesses have already laid-off significant numbers of workers in order to make ends meet - and the economy isn’t expected to return to strength anytime soon. We have to improve the business climate in this state if we are going to turn this economy around. Our businesses are struggling. If we pass along an increased financial burden on them with higher tax rates, they will eventually quit and government’s revenues will decrease even more. The families and businesses of Minnesota’s private sector have been taking a tremendous hit. Now it’s government’s turn to reform, restructure, and live within its means. To do that, we need leadership, discipline, and action. We’re ten weeks away from ending session - it’s time for our Democratic leadership to stop waiting and start doing.
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