Mike Lee of Albert Lea writes that "everything must be on the table" when it comes to the budget, because it’s the only way Minnesota will get a comprehensive solution to its financial crisis:
I listened to Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s State of State speech last week and I will agree that Minnesota is looking at historic challenges in finding ways to balance a $4.8 billion budget deficit. But what I heard from the governor was just saying more of the same old rhetoric that we have been always hearing from this governor.
The governor asked in his speech please don’t raise taxes. We have been hearing this for over six years now. By not raising taxes, the governor has gotten his way and has spent all of the state’s reserves and rainy-day funds to balance past budgets. The governor used an example of sitting at a kitchen table. Governor, the kitchen cupboard is bare! You in your shortsightedness, only looking at the present, have failed to prepare Minnesota for the future.
The governor stated that he wants to cut Minnesota’s business tax rate in half. This means he wants a $50 million package of tax credits that he says will create over $100 million in new investments. He is proposing a 25 percent refundable tax credit for small business owners. He is asking for a capital gains exemption for qualifying investments in small Minnesota businesses. He wants to give a 100 percent exemption from the sales tax to companies right away! So when companies buy equipment, instead of businesses depreciate this equipment over years, the governor would let them deduct the whole cost right away.
But my question is how does the governor plan to pay for this? Remember, Gov. Pawlenty, you have a $4.8 billion deficit on the books.
I am sure that he will be looking at cutting funding to LGA for city’s and counties; this has always been one of Pawlenty favorites. That way he can make the local officials do his dirty work on raising taxes. That’s our Teflon governor for you.
We all know that the governor will be targeting both the health and human services budget.
Rep. Robin Brown wrote in the Albert Lea Tribune:
“I have grave concerns about additional cuts to health care. Many families can’t take their kids to the doctor, seniors can’t afford prescriptions, rural hospitals already are bogged down by the high cost of unreimbursed care, and dozens of nursing homes have closed in the last few years. Some of the governor’s proposals could mean the end of programs like Meals on Wheels and others that help our seniors stay in their homes longer.”
I agree with Rep. Brown. We need to keep funding programs that helps to keep our elderly out of nursing homes. It’s far cheaper for the state to provide a couple hours of care for an elderly living in their own homes than to have to pay the cost of residing in a nursing home. Likewise, let’s not forget that Human Services provides care for those with mental illnesses. Without this care, many would be living on the street — without medicine. Think of the repercussions of cutting Human Services!
These are tough times and the legislature and the governor will have to make some hard decisions, but everything needs to be on the table. Don’t give tax breaks by passing programs that will put us deeper in debt — then pay for these programs by cutting other programs that are saving us money.