Responsible gov’t — for a change

Examples of competent governing can still be found at the city level.

by Daily Editorial Board

On Monday, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak released his 2012 budget proposal. The big headline is that there will be no property tax increase this year, but not receiving top billing are a number of sensible proposals that will improve Minneapolis. In an age where federal and even state politics are frustratingly polarized and filled with unhelpful grandstanding, RybakâÄôs budget is a refreshing example of competent, responsive government.

Rybak heard the outcry from homeowners about high property taxes and reduced his request from a 2 percent increase to no increase at all. Similarly, he heard the public complain about the condition of roads in Minneapolis and will spend an additional $57 million over five years on streets âÄî an increase of more than 50 percent compared to what the city had previously allotted.

This extra spending is of the responsible kind to boot. The city has paid down almost $300 million in debt and boosted its credit rating as a result. With a better credit rating comes cheaper borrowing costs, saving the city about $12 million per year, offsetting the additional spending on streets.

There is long-term planning in the budget as well: The city will be purchasing more land along the Central Corridor rail line so that it can better control future development.

It is disappointing that the budget will result in 90 layoffs of city employees âÄî the city must handle those carefully. But as an overall plan, the 2012 budget is smart and responsible. It is refreshing and boosts the publicâÄôs confidence in government when elected officials can show they are listening to their constituents and doing their business competently and responsibly.