Thursday, June 18, 2009

Gov. Pawlenty accomplishes what Minnesota Legislature couldn't

Early this year Governor Tim Pawlenty warned the Democrat lead Minnesota State Legislature that if an agreement was not met on balancing the budget there would be no special session and he would use unallotment to balance the budget. Tuesday Gov. Pawlenty announced which programs are to be affected. The Democrat lead Minnesota State Legislature offered little in the ways of cost cutting to balance the budget; rather the Democrats looked to established a fourth tier tax rate and increase taxes on every Minnesotan.

Why is the philosophy of the Democrats only way to balance a budget it through higher taxes? Minnesotans have to tighten their belts due to the economic downturn; yet Democrats feel raising taxes is the only means to balance the budget. Gov. Pawlenty accomplished what was needed by reducing the budget by 3 or 4%. Gov. Pawlenty echoed the realities facing Minnesota families and businesses by saying, “I think it’s very reasonable for the state of Minnesota to do the same thing” as Minnesotans tighten their belts.

Gov. Pawlenty is delaying $1.8B in state aid to public school districts resulting in 73% going to schools this year with the remainder to come in year 2. Other cuts made by Gov. Pawlenty is $300M in state aid to cities, counties and townships; $236M from health and welfare grants and services; $100M to higher education; $67M to renters’ tax refunds and the elimination of political contribution tax refund; and $33M to state agency budgets.

The cuts drew a negative response from Margaret Anderson Kelliher. Minnesota House Speaker Kelliher response to the unallotment was, “In just under an hour today, Governor Pawlenty has done more damage to Minnesota than he has throughout his entire career.” Really? Speaker Kelliher shame on you. It was your Legislature that failed Minnesotans by not working with the Governor to establish a balance budget without putting more burdens on Minnesotans.
Many on the national scene say Americans need to give President Obama’s stimulus plan a chance and it won’t be an overnight shift to help the economy; why than are Democrats in Minnesota not giving the same leeway to the cuts made by the Governor? It is time for Government agencies, higher education, k-12 school system, and government run health care systems to work leaner and smarter.

Unfortunately the cuts to cities, counties and townships may have an adverse effect on a city in which I live. Hamburg residents have a sanitary sewer system that is taxed and has been for over 30 years. Finally, something is going to be done even in light of a recession. In order for Hamburg to grow by adding additional businesses and homes a major face lift is required to the sanitary sewer system.

Part of the funding was to come from assistance from the state. Now that funding may be in question. The funding question is an important one but pales in comparison to the need for an upgrade to the sanitary sewer system. The worst case scenario is residents in Hamburg will see assessments made on their properties to help pay for the sanitary sewer upgrade. Residents of Hamburg could sit here kicking and screaming at Gov. Pawlenty over the budget cuts; instead rational though prevails.

I applaud Gov. Pawlenty for taking bold moves to balance the budget. Personally, I would have made deeper cuts to education because there is a lot of waste in the education system. It’s time for Minnesota educators to take a hard look at the current system and reform it.