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

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BUDGET SOLUTION A MIXED BAG

Friday, July 22, 2011
To the editor: I doubt any of us are completely happy with each and every aspect of our new state budget, but we did end the state shutdown and emerge with some key reforms that will put Minnesota on a better path. One thing I plan to do in the next legislative session is to introduce a bill that will prevent future state shutdown. My plan would allow state funding to continue at a 90-percent level in the event a budget is not in place at the conclusion of the fiscal year. The budget we passed in our recent special session includes $34 billion in General Fund spending. That is more than I thought we should spend, but it is still far less than the $39 billion we were projected to spend. The health and human services bill probably is the best example of improvements we made. This area was on track for a 22-percent spending increase, but we scaled that back to a more sustainable 4.8 percent; this will save taxpayers an estimated $10 billion over the next decade. The new budget also includes new efficiencies like consolidating the Office of Enterprise Technology and auditing the effectiveness of state agencies. It is unfortunate we implemented tobacco bonds and a K-12 shift to increase our overall budget, but it proved necessary to break the stalemate and end our state shutdown. We can be pleased our education budget will provide an additional $50 per pupil to the formula. This was a very difficult process as we worked to put a budget in place despite very different philosophies. We prevented the governor from passing tax increases during the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. We need further government redesign/reform and I look forward to making even more strides in 2012. Sincerely, Rep. Glenn Gruenhage
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