By Glenn Gruenhagen
We have begun the process of using common sense and fiscal responsibility to balance our budget.
The first budget-balancing legislation we introduced this session fills $1 billion of our $6.2 billion projected shortfall. Most of the bill is a continuation of spending levels that received bipartisan approval at the end of the 2010 session. The bill (HF0130) reduces spending for state agencies by $200 million in the current budget while making other one-time spending cuts permanent, reducing the long-term deficit by another $840 million.
It also helps prevent state agencies from unnecessary end-of-year spending by giving the Minnesota Management and Budget commissioner the directive to reduce state agency spending by $200 million. I applaud this provision since it will help end frivolous spending at the end of a budget cycle so entities can show a $0 balance and protect their future funding.
Another provision clips the wires on some automatic spending increases to save us $840 million. For instance, we will cancel the scheduled return of a program which uses taxpayer money to refund political contributions. These reductions are already in place for this year, so we’re just making them permanent for future budgets instead of letting spending go back on autopilot next year. Also, Local Government Aid remains at current levels while leaving the current formula in place.
Money saved now will allow us to remain committed to our spending priorities. The first budget bill includes a provision which indicates K-12 education, special education, and colleges and universities cannot be reduced.
More budget work remains and I will pass along more information as things unfold. One way to receive the latest news is by receiving my legislative e-mail updates. Just visit my official House Web site (www.house.mn/25A) to sign up.
Rep. Gruenhagen can be reached at the Capitol by calling 651-296-4229. He is also available by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. His office is located at 575 State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55155.