Your Letter: Bureaucratic waste is all around
A mentality like last week's anonymous opinion article proposing citizens should, without question, simply be complacent and cooperate with whatever tax policies are imposed in order to maintain basic services is dangerous and irresponsible.
Events held on April 15 let citizens express their objection to increased government spending to the detriment of future generations and to make elected officials aware of the diminishing popularity of increasing taxes to pay for poor financial planning on the part of local, state and federal government administrators. This was in contrast to the wildly inaccurate premise that they did not want to pay for police, fire, education or health care programs. Additionally they suggested proper program reform must be considered first, rather than funding perpetually wasteful programs and agencies.
Bureaucratic administrative waste is abundant in the state and local government and is easily viewed with a visit to www.mmb.state.mn.us, the Web site for the Minnesota Budget and Management Office. The forecasted biennium budget for 2010-2011, K-12 education and Health and Human Services will account for nearly 68 percent of the $35 billion general fund spending, with departments receiving 39.1 percent and 28.7 percent respectively, making them the two largest spending categories. Spending for these programs shows that administration costs alone accounted for nearly $20 million for the Department of Higher Education and a $137 million for HHS in fiscal year 2008. Administrative excess is also in addition to abuse of the government assistance programs responsible for providing health care to qualified individuals by out-of-state individuals that move to Minnesota for the purpose of generous social and health assistance programs compared to most other states in the country. Additionally, transportation, public safety (police, fire), veteran's affairs and agriculture combined account for only 7 percent of the budget and would not be an obvious source of effective spending cuts to mend a $5 billion deficit, contrary to the previous article.
When compared to the 8 percent budget allocation to the Higher Education Department including the University of Minnesota and Minnesota State College systems, the previously mentioned services still lag behind HHS, K-12, and Higher Education with spending for the two university systems at $1.5 billion each. Recent examples of spending excess in the higher education system include a recent bill that has been passed allowing flat tuition rates for 22 of the 32 Minnesota colleges for virtually any student wishing to attend college in Minnesota from around the world regardless of personal or parental immigration status. Minnesota subsidizes college tuition roughly 50 percent per student, thus increasing tuition burden on in-state resident students and taxpayers for non-taxpaying individuals. Further examples include a new $60 million football stadium under construction and the proposed Bell museum, a $24 million natural sciences museum to be built for the U of M that is included in the new omnibus spending bill for 2009.
I urge everyone to take the time and utilize convenient technology such as e-mail, and even social network sites such as Facebook because many elected representatives (including local officials) now have accounts, to not just pay whatever taxes are imposed like a good citizen but express concern over how your tax dollars are spent before upcoming broad tax increases are imposed.
Formerly of Wadena