As we near the end of the legislative session, we need to take a good look at the budget solutions offered and be honest with ourselves about how to get our state moving forward again. We know that there is no perfect solution where everything works about like in a fairy tale, but if we look at the two solutions being offered, there is a clear winner.
We can either make the top two percent of Minnesotans pay their fair share or cut millions of dollars of funding from programs to provide meals to senior citizens and education inmates. A cuts-only approach to solving the budget deficit means that everyone is facing tougher circumstances, even the most vulnerable Minnesotans like our seniors.
We’re already seeing bills like Sen. David Hann’s introduced as Republicans desperately try to cut $5 billion. Hann’s bill would cut in half projected state spending on senior nutrition program grants, also losing Minnesota another $1.9 million in federal money for senior nutrition.
70,000 seniors get fed through senior nutrition programs like Meals on Wheels in Minnesota.
The cuts to senior nutrition would mean overall funding for senior nutrition would decrease by a quarter and 3,700 elderly Minnesotans would lsoe their home-delivered meals.
Other bills proposed by Republicans would cut $75 million from the Department of Corrections. This would mean an end to programs that help inmates stay out of the prison system, inmate education classes, unemployment for hundreds of corrections employees and closing correctional facilities.
Minnesota already ranks 49th in the nation in corrections spending.
The Minnesota Department of Corrections only has about 1,000 employees in jobs that don’t deal directly with offenders, which means losing hundreds of employees could compromise guard safety. Expanded early release for low-level offenders also means that security and safety will be more important than ever.
As Minnesotans, we have a clear choice of budget solutions. We can ask the top two percent of income-earners to pay their fair share or we can gut our state to the point where our corrections facilities aren’t safe and our seniors don’t get the proper food and nutrition they need.
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