Reality budget talk neededOn Wednesday, Minnesota State Economist Dr. Tom Stinson released the economic forecast that predicts Minnesota will again be in a deficit by the end of the biennium.
By: State Senator Tom Bakk, Lake County News Chronicle
On Wednesday, Minnesota State Economist Dr. Tom Stinson released the economic forecast that predicts Minnesota will again be in a deficit by the end of the biennium. His message that our state faces a serious and ongoing budget deficit that cannot be solved with easy solutions is an honest assessment of Minnesota’s grave budget situation.
Gov. Pawlenty has proven time and again he doesn’t want to acknowledge the depth of the problem, and certainly does not want to entertain a balanced approach of solving the budget through prudent revenue increases along with additional budget cuts.
I have been saying for months now that we cannot raise taxes enough or cut spending enough to get Minnesota and its citizens out of this dire budget situation. We must take a balanced, long-term approach to solving this problem.
Unfortunately, Gov. Pawlenty refuses to listen to his own professional economic advisors and do what is right for the state. Pawlenty seems committed to continuing his misguided path that will leave our state in much worse financial condition than when he took office.
As the governor turns his back on our state with his refusal to listen to professionals, he is at odds with nearly every non-partisan economist with his implausible claims that there is no tangible proof that Minnesota will grow its way out of this structural problem. In addition, the governor tries to downplay the problem with assertions that our massive and ongoing budget deficit is manageable.
Unfortunately, the facts just don’t support the governor’s claims.
It is time for the governor to have an honest budget discussion that doesn’t include more fees and year after year of property tax increases.
To say that the governor has not raised taxes in Minnesota just isn’t true. While in office, the governor has supported more than $2 billion in new fees, and because of his deep cuts to budgets, local governments, and schools, our property taxes have increased more than $2.5 billion statewide since 2003.
Unemployment is near a record high, with more than 189,000 citizens on unemployment and tens of thousands of others underemployed or that have given up looking for work, and our state is losing more businesses and jobs every day. The governor’s same old rhetoric isn’t working – we need a new vision.
In fact, the state will be more than $1.2 billion in the red by June 30, 2011, with more than 70 percent attributed to a decline in income taxes. More importantly, Stinson said, Minnesota is in big financial trouble for the next biennium. It seems everyone but the governor and his most conservative allies realize the problem is so huge it cannot be solved through budget cuts alone.
Solving this budget is going to be really hard work, but not unlike what Minnesota’s families and businesses are facing. It is time for Gov. Pawlenty to step up to the plate and be a true leader. It is time for the governor to admit that we have a dire budget situation that calls for courageous leadership and sound solutions.
The governor must forgo his past budget solutions of gimmicks, shifts, and budget tricks and put forth a responsible budget, supported by professional economists, to cut state spending, raise revenues, and make sound investments that will create jobs because that’s the only sustainable way to move Minnesota forward.