To the editor
One thing I like about Representative Bob Barrett is his ability to explain the sometimes-complex aspects of government in a way everyone can understand.
Recently he was asked about the state deficit. Representative Barrett said when he came into office in 2010 the previous legislature promised all kinds of things to people that the legislature could not pay for which caused future deficits. In other words they passed laws that required the government spend more money in the future, not in the year the promise was made. They had depleted the state’s savings account and had borrowed $2 billion from the schools, known as a school shift.
Republicans inherited these promises and the resulting deficit when they took control of the House and Senate in 2011. The Republicans had to manage the state budget with this huge projected increase in spending. Barrett and the Republican legislature did not raise taxes; in fact they started by cutting their own per diem expenses. They reduced spending where they could, especially in higher ed where their is a lot of waste (see Wall Street Journal article on the University of Minnesota’s bloated bureaucracy), and they reduced the huge rate of increase in other areas. They tried to cut taxes but Governor Dayton would not allow it.
The result? Revenue increased in Minnesota without higher taxes but with an expanding private sector. The state’s savings account was filled to the brim. Over $1 billion dollars of the DFL education shift of 2010 was paid back. The $6 billion deficit was whittled away to almost nothing. There is still a $1 billion deficit because future spending is still too high.
Now we are at a crossroads. Do we continue to reform government and manage expenses or do we increase taxes by over $4 billion dollars (Dayton’s plan) to solve a $1 billion deficit while ignoring the fact that our rainy day funds already have $1 billion which would solve the state’s deficit?
It’s up to you to decide which is the more responsible path to take.