The Minnesota Legislature had to go into overtime to finish its work in the 2010 Legislative session, as they missed the deadline for passing a balanced budget. There is good news and bad news in the details of the final “global agreement” between Governor Pawlenty and Legislative leaders.
The good news is that the $3 billion budget shortfall was closed without raising taxes. Governor Pawlenty remained steadfast in his belief (a belief that I share, by the way) that we can’t tax our way to prosperity. Democrat leaders in the Legislature accepted the governor’s previous unallotments as part of the solution. The Governor also successfully fought off a Democrat initiative of early enrollment of our state into Obamacare. At least for now.
The bad news is that the next governor has the authority to enroll Minnesota in Obamacare, which will greatly expand taxpayer-subsidized health care before Obamacare takes effect nationwide. This will make health care a centerpiece of the debate in the gubernatorial campaign.
The other bad news is that there is no real structural reform. While Governor Pawlenty’s unallotments help close the current budget deficit, they are not permanent. The spending blinks back on in the next budget cycle, contributing to what many expect to be at least a $5 billion deficit for the next Legislature and Governor to deal with. The “budget solution” is filled with accounting shifts that will have to be paid back in future years, partially tying the hands of future legislators.
Having been a local elected official who has had to make difficult decisions with limited resources, I know, at least in part, what the next Legislature will be dealing with. It will be difficult work, but for the sake of future generations of Minnesotans, we will have to roll up or sleeves and go to work on meaningful reform about the way our state does business. I ask for your support so I can take my experience to St. Paul to represent you, the taxpayer, in solving our state’s long-term financial crisis.