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

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Budget scenario improves, sizeable gap remains

Wednesday, March 2, 2011
To the editor: We recently received good news in that our state's updated economic forecast indicates our budget shortfall is more than $1 billion less than projected last November. But we still have a $5.1 billion hole to fix. Our budget-shortfall scenario boils down to this: Minnesota anticipates a 9-percent increase in revenue during the upcoming biennium, but previous legislatures have committed us to spending 29 percent more. The simple truth is folks made spending promises they could never dream of keeping. Even the historic tax increases Gov. Mark Dayton proposes wouldn't be enough to sustain the auto-pilot spending that's in place. A 9-percent increase in revenue (to $33.5 billion) should be more than enough for government to make ends meet and we need to make it work. You deserve better and that's why I will remain committed to helping folks get back to work, making Minnesota a better home for businesses and bringing fiscal responsibility to our state. More details of the House's approach will be available when our full budget proposal is issued before March 25. The Constitution says we must have a balanced budget when the fiscal year ends in June. We could be $1 billion closer to compliance and looking at a shortfall of $4 billion today, but the governor struck down a bill which would have extended the unallotments passed by the Legislature last session. An improving economy that helps our budget is a step in the right direction, but some difficult choices remain as we work to return to prosperity. Let's get to work on solutions that not only bring our state's bottom line in order today, but will help us achieve long-range budget stability in Minnesota. Sincerely, Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen
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