Yep, I got a typo in the title, and then thought hey, why not live it as is… it is a dud in many ways. The legislature has asked for opinions, so I cranked out a number of suggestions in their online form, not sure how well that format will work… I guess if I get any feedback from them, maybe it does, but then again, its likely filled with a bunch of extremes on all sides. As such, I expect the local meetings likely will carry a lot more impact, but I just don’t see how I can get to one, much less testify… so I’ll rant a little bit here.
The biggest issue… the legislature. They need to take this seriously, and realize that nothing should really be off the table, and that little things do add up. Now, in sound bites and internet commentary, they do seem to look at this seriously. However, a quick scan of the 290 proposed bills in the domain of the finance committee suggest otherwise. Egads, it seems nearly every bill is focused on expanding government and spending more money. That doesn’t bode too well for a need to take things seriously. If anything, a moratorium on all new spending bills may be in order. Granted, there are no doubt some good things in there… but when you can’t manage with what you have, adding more is not prudent at all. At a minimum, if one proposes to spend more money in one area, concurrently cut in another. (in fairness some of the bills are based upon incoming fed money, but thats a whole other story).
The only way the budget issue will be solved is massive cuts, plus tax increases. One or the other along will not cut it… and using debt and creative accounting sure didnt work out too well for banking and housing… its not going to work out too well for state govt either, if not now, it will come back to haunt later.
I really like what rep Steve Drazkowski had to say in his learning from the private sector release. However, he didnt go far enough with the parallel to the private sector. Ie, no business in their right mind will cut their unique selling position / core competence beyond what will scale (ie, a business needs scalability, otherwise its doomed to shrink etc). Pretty much everything is negotiable up to that point. Once you start gutting out a business such that scalability is negative, failure becomes inevitable, short of the current trend of bailouts.
And thats the issue of state budgeting, what is the minimum level needed to achieve positive outcomes in the future. Ie, q-comp is not it, prisons are not it, university building projects are not it, nor is any level of further govt expansion. Cutting public health services to the citizens will come back to bite, even dental funding if deferred will be much more expensive later. Oversight, administrative, and supervision functions on the other hand even if efficiency drops, provided its not state mandated are tolerable. Errors made in those areas are fixable at minimal cost later… but basic safety nets are not. Thiis would require a rewrite of mandates and qualification criteria, as agencies would not have the manpower to comply, if overhead in such areas were cut…. lots of sacred cows would need to go.
Cutting public safety back through a reduction in laws and a change from misdemeanors to non-crimes will also reduce the load on the judiciary, and the prison system at minimal future expense. (I dont buy the law enforcement side that going after minor crimes saves money in the long haul…. I’ve got too many friends in law enforcement who admit otherwise privately). Also history bears that out, in the 70’s our percentage of folks in prison was a fraction of what we have today, and society back then was not all that bad.
Education needs to be cut all around… $160,000 costs per classroom, where a teachers fully burdened wages is under $100,000 is just too much overhead. Its not sustainable long term… and do teachers and students really get much benefit for that $60,000 worth of overhead, I really doubt it. I know they dont get didly for standardized testing, in fact, I realy see NCLB as focused on all the wrong things… rote learning and teaching to the lowest denominator in 2 subjects is not the way to prepare the young for the future. Accountability is needed, absolutely, and NCLB had good intentions, but the implementation is insanity cubed. I’d rather see overhead slashed by 25%, and a $2000 refundable tax credit given to each full time teacher for their classrooms… Put the money where it most closely impacts the students with as few strings as possible… My guess is education spending efficiency would shoot through the sky if the individual classroom teacher had the responsibility to make it happen. Sure, some would get wasted or misused, but I’d bet the vast majority of cases would result in a windfall
LGA at the city level should not be cut , as its where most citizens receive the greatest value for the dollar, either via education, local services, or public safety, ie police and fire. Otoh, LGA should not be expanded either.
At the county level, consolidate, consolidate, consolidate, even going so far as to use online remote terminals and limited hours in some locations. Its a luxury we can no longer afford.
Tax cuts, when the problem overall is a lack of demand are likely to result in hoarding, or offshore investments. Encouraging investment in NEW MN business or expansions into NEW markets through targeted tax deductions is a different matter entirely. Its like the stimulus bill, if you want A, you need to comply with B… across the board non discretionary tax cuts would be exceedingly counter productive.
As far as MNCare and such goes… cutting is counterproductive on the outset. However, negotiating with providers to save money is another story. They full well know if MNCare gets cut, their ER visits, and non collectible recievables will go through the roof. Force them to compromise on reimbursement… as getting 80% on the dollar, is better than getting nothing combined with increased usage.
Its probably a good thing I’m not in govt… I’d be too ruthless with cuts, and lobbyists would have my head by upending central control, but I’d rather see the calls made in Warroad, MN that best benefit that area, than St Paul dictating what they think best for the far north areas of the state.