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Your Letters: A dose of reality in the state's budget growth

They say perception is reality. If that is the case, we should to take a moment to ensure the perception of our House budget proposals is accurate.

I recently wrote how our budget proposal spends $33.9 billion in the upcoming two-year cycle. That's a $3.7 billion increase in spending during the next biennium.

It bears repeating: The House proposes increasing state spending by about 12 percent in the next two years.

The House's budget proposal does not cut funding to local nursing homes as some folks are saying. The truth is the governor is the one who recently proposed the deepest cuts in the history of our nursing home industry. Our House plan provides local nursing homes with the same level of funding they received last year and some homes may even gain an increase.

Our House budget proposal also increases greater Minnesota transportation funding by $1 million, regardless of how often folks are told otherwise.

Also, the House will not - and cannot - raise local property taxes. Setting these tax levies is the responsibility of local governments, not something we take up at the Capitol. Our local governments would receive the same amount of money this year as they received in 2010 through the House plan. We should be able to make ends meet at those levels.

Instead of talking about budget cuts, the question we should really be asking is whether a 12-percent increase in state spending through 2013 is too much. Most everyday workers would do backflips if they received a raise that large in today's economy. But we expect $34 billion in revenue, so at least $33.9 billion lives within our means.

I ask folks who think we are still spending too much to be patient because reinventing the way government functions is a massive undertaking. We are making progress and brought down a projected 29-percent increase in state spending to a more moderate level, but undoing decades of bad budget habits is an ongoing process. A fellow legislator recently pointed out on the House floor that state spending has increased 500 percent since the 1960s (that's per capita, adjusted for inflation). As a state, we have spent, spent and spent some more.

Now we are finding out what happens if we do not think about tomorrow by putting money away and establishing a reserve.

The House budget proposals look forward and give us a chance at a sustainable future. Once you look past the rhetoric, you can see we are planning for tomorrow by reforming government and keeping state spending within our means.

Rep. Mark Murdock