There are many difficult decisions to make in erasing our multi-billion dollar state budget shortfall. That's why it's so important to bring common sense and fiscal responsibility to the table.
We have a $32 billion budget to work with for the upcoming two-year cycle. That should be plenty of funding to uphold our priorities like education, care for our vulnerable, public safety and our veterans.
Where we run into problems is in funding other non-priority areas where people made promises with money we don't have. Now we're facing a substantial shortfall even though state revenue is rising.
The first budget-balancing bill we introduced this session erases $1 billion of our $6.2 billion shortfall; it also establishes that K-12 education, special education, and colleges and universities cannot be reduced.
This phase includes a continuation of "unallotments" which received bipartisan approval at the end of the 2010 session. The bill reduces the deficit by removing $840 million of automatic increases set for next year, reduces funding for the Legislature and constitutional offices, sets Local Government Aid at current levels while leaving the current formula in place and permanently eliminates the Political Contribution Refund that subsidizes political campaigns.
I am pleased with a provision which gives the Minnesota Management and Budget commissioner the directive to reduce state agency spending by $200 million. This will help bring an end to the old ways of government offices spending frivolously at the end of a budget cycle just to show a $0 balance and protect their future funding.
This is only the first step in erasing our budget shortfall, so a lot more challenges remain. As always, I welcome your input and invite your e-mails at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rep. Mark Murdock
House District 10B