Governor’s budget makes most sense

Pawlenty is thinking long term. His understanding of basic economics is unique in St. Paul.

The state of Minnesota is facing a nearly $5 billion shortfall in its budget for the next biennium. Unlike the feds that can create money out of thin air, put it on a balance sheet and run up extraordinary debt, MinnesotaâÄôs Constitution requires an absolutely balanced budget every two years. The projected income from taxes, fees and more taxes to the state will be $5 billion less than the projected spending. Common sense would tell us that we should decrease our spending by $5 billion in order to balance the budget, and thankfully, Gov. Tim Pawlenty is on the common sense side of this issue. All too often, the answer to budget shortfalls is additional taxes and/or fees on marketplace commodities like cigarettes, gas, food, clothing, etc. Last session, Democrats raised the tax on gasoline and attempted to add on a clothing tax âÄî one of MinnesotaâÄôs last remaining pro-business policies. Unfortunately, it is contradictory to budget for funding based on a commodity while also trying to decrease the demand of it. Astronomical fuel prices last year actually made revenue from taxing drivers fall. Why depend on money from something we want to get rid of? Call up your DFL legislator and ask them for yourself. This session at the Capitol seems to be a disappointing duplication of that message as the governor prepares to put the brakes on another round of unsustainable tax and fee increases. Pawlenty has proposed cuts in major areas like health and human services and higher education, but this comes at a time when taxpayers are making tough budget decisions in their homes, and these huge areas of spending could benefit from a round of cost cutting for future efficiency. Nobody enjoys the idea of people not having health insurance or students paying more for college, but the number one priority starting point for our suffering economy must be job creation. This is why Pawlenty has proposed easing the disproportional tax burden off of businesses as part of his strategy to increase revenue for the state by putting more people back to work. Let there be no mistake: Businesses in Minnesota are far from well off. If they were well off, 55,000 people wouldnâÄôt have lost their jobs in 2008, revenue from business sales wouldnâÄôt have plummeted and University students wouldnâÄôt lose sleep worrying about employers rescinding their job offers. Government has an obligation to the short-term suffering of its citizens just as much as it has an obligation to future job prospects statewide. DFL leaders in St. Paul have been relatively quiet on their proposed solutions to this multi-billion dollar deficit, mainly holding news conferences to bash the governor. Instead, Democrats are planning on a big bailout check from the Obama administration to solve our problems. In addition to state assistance, D.C. Democrats voted to use millions of dollars for âÄúfamily planningâÄù (funny, I thought families did family planning), $200 million for improvements in the National Mall and other outrageous pork that GOP leaders say would create 32 new government programs . These programs are nearly impossible to dissolve once created, so the billions they will consume over the next few decades are unimaginable. Thankfully, President Barack Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi were forced to remove the contraceptive funding portion of this âÄújob creationâÄù bill, as even Democrats threatened to block its passage. Meanwhile, in Minnesota, waiting for ObamaâÄôs handouts for our own insane financial mistakes is like waiting for the PublisherâÄôs Clearing House crew to arrive at our front door. One branch of government in the budget equation is making tough choices for our future, and another group of individuals is sticking to the easy way out âÄî the way that will make the least people upset. IâÄôm a college student that would love cheaper health insurance and more government cash for my tuition, but I will not use it as an excuse to not make progress in my life, and neither should anyone else. Many of my close friends are struggling or have lost their jobs, so the pretense that conservatives are outside the emotional side of this crisis is false and insulting. Every institution, public or private, and every individual is part of the cost-cutting solution necessary for us to move past this recession. Sometimes, cutting staff and faculty is a necessary choice, and the University should not raise tuition just to avoid a fight with the support staff union or the faculty over job cuts. As a University employee myself for some time, I can attest that some staff members are expendable, whether it makes us feel good inside to lay them off. This is the part where we think with our heads and not just our hearts. WeâÄôve experienced cycles like this in America for 150 years, and each recovery has taught us one lesson: The spirit of hardworking and innovative Americans will always prevail over artificial government intervention. Some industries are thriving and hiring more people every day. Go out and get the skill necessary to be a hirable candidate in this economy. Be proactive. Grow your network. DonâÄôt get left behind. Andy Post welcomes comments at [email protected]