Notes from all over

by GDA gda@accessmn.com

1-22-2015

The 2015 Minnesota Legislature is now in session, so we should all hold our breaths. There will be bills asking for an increase in gas taxes. There will be bills asking for an increase in every type of tax they can think of. Oh yeah, you won't hear of many, if any, bills asking for cuts in spending.
Gov. Mark Dayton has admitted, finally, that the state isn't doing a good job under his leadership with education. He has said they have to do better.
Of course, education costs money. Back in 1990, the state's budget was $12.2 billion or a little more than a billion a month. Health care and K-12 funding took 44 percent of the state's budget. This year health care and K-12 will apparently cost 66 percent of the budget or $8.1 billion for education and $4.5 billion for health care compared to $4 billion for education in 1990 and $1.4 billion for health care. Legislators will probably say these figures are wrong, but how many of them really know what our taxes are and what our costs are?
If you were wondering where the money the state takes from you went, local government aid in 1990 was a billion and now it is about $1.6 billion.
Nobody thinks any of these things will see cuts. More likely they will see increases.
Just think, many of us can remember the big hullabaloo when the budget for Minnesota went over the $1 billion mark. That wasn't that long ago.
Now, we can bring in inflation, but all the reports we seem to get from St. Paul tell us that there is little or no inflation. Do you think they could be lying to us?
There are some easy ways to make cuts, though. The first would be to cut the size of our Legislature, which was the fourth largest in this country. Cutting it to a third the size it is would save us millions. Heck, we wouldn't have to build that new Taj Mahal of an office building since we wouldn't need the space that we have now for the Legislature.
Then we could try and welcome businesses, which means more jobs and taxes. That would mean more income without hurting the people of this great state.
Get a good consulting firm to go through the operations of our state government and cut out the duplications. You would save hundreds of millions. Politicians like big government; they can give jobs to those who support them.
The state and county could do a lot more outsourcing. Governmental bodies have never been any good at running businesses such as Social Security, Medicaid and more. Look at the size of the road departments of some of our counties. They could outsource much of the work and the cost would go down, plus we would be building more private jobs. Some of these counties and townships have huge reserves. They could quit taxing until their fund balances were more in line with their spending. No, that won't happen. These groups like their security blankets.
As far as education goes, maybe letting the local school boards and their teachers have some say in what is taught. Graduates might come out of high school with an education that fits their future. They definitely know more about what should be taught than a bunch of pork barrel loving politicians.
Just remember, the Republican controlled House is supposed to originate all spending bills. That doesn't seem to happen, though.
They have to work hard, though. The budget has to be passed in less than five months. Of course, Gov. Dayton has to sign it.
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In the meantime, enjoy this special winter. Temperatures are low and we have seen enough snow so we can ski, snowmobile and ice fish. Have a good week.


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