The House has put its budget targets in place. The plan is a step in the right direction by helping us balance the budget and fund our priorities without raising taxes, but our work still isn't finished in bringing state spending under control.
The key is to improve service through cost-saving reform and incentives. Our budget proposal reduces costs, realigns government to match economic reality and reforms government to provide a sustainable future. This budget is fundamental structural change, avoiding tax increases in favor of reducing state agency funding by 15 percent and calling for a 15-percent reduction in state government by 2015. It also freezes public employee salaries for two years.
This gives Minnesotans what they want: more efficient service, less fraud and waste, reduced bureaucracy and smaller government.
Minnesota has spent the last two decades spending beyond its means and now we have a governor who wants to continue pulling us down the tax-and-spend road. For too long, our government has made promises it can’t keep with money it doesn’t have. Our state is increasing spending three times faster than revenue is increasing and this path is clearly unsustainable. The irresponsible use of one-time surplus money and stimulus funds to fund long-term needs delayed the inevitable, but here we are, facing economic reality today.
Our mission remains to resolve today's budget shortfall while still seeking ways to fund core priorities, reduce spending and put more money back into the economy. The plan we unveiled provides middle-class tax relief, while holding funding for classrooms, veterans and courts harmless from cuts. It is imperative to protect the safety nets for our elderly and disabled citizens.
But, again, there is more we can do to help put us on more stable economic ground and restore public trust. These are very difficult times that require tough fiscal decisions and we're all going to have to chip in to help dig our way out of this mess we face.
Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen