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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen (R)

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State spending growth unsustainable

Wednesday, February 2, 2011
To the editor: Minnesota has a spending problem, not a shortage of revenue. Our state’s revenue is expected to increase by 5 percent in the next two years, giving us a budget of $32 billion. But Minnesota has increased its spending commitments by approximately 27 percent in the same span, rising to around $39 billion if left unchecked. Families and small businesses everywhere have had flat or reduced budgets during the Great Recession, but government has kept right on living beyond its means, making promises it can’t keep with money it never had. Since 2006, every industry in Minnesota – except for government – has lost jobs. It’s as if some folks believe economic laws don’t apply to government. Now we face a $6.2 billion budget shortfall and have a governor who wants to spend another $1 billion of our tax dollars to fund projects. Maybe we should start by figuring out what to do with the $2.6 billion in authorized, but unissued bonds that is sitting around gathering dust. We could fund some essential projects like flood relief, cancel the rest of the spending and start crawling out of our budget hole. It’s about time our state – top to bottom – sets good priorities and lives within its means. I applaud the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce for advocating a restructuring of the way local governments operate. The Chamber understands how obsolete the system has become and favors measures like shared services to help us operate more efficiently. Our current budget plan keeps local government aid flat. To reiterate: Local governments will get this year what they got last year. Most of our officials saw the budget writing on the wall, anticipated funding increases would not come to fruition and adjusted accordingly. These are smart people who prepared to encounter actual cuts and will make-do with the same amount of money this year as they had in 2010. Ultimately, it’s the fiscally responsible thing for government to do in these times, mirroring the course taken by families and small businesses everywhere. Sincerely, Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen
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