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Sunday, March 22, 2009

Solving the State Budget Problem Kalin/Olseen Style

In the February 25, 2009 issue of the ECM Post Review (page 5) Representative Jeremy Kalin, by default, outlined brilliantly why the Minnesota State budget dilemma will NEVER be resolved by liberal DFLers.

Mr. Kalin, citing "nonpartisan House Research of the Minnesota Legislature" brought forth these stunning and pertinent facts: (Quote) " . . . . if the Minnesota legislature:

  • Cut all children's health care ($139 million) and
  • Shut down 20 percent of nursing homes in the state ($191 million) and
  • Released all the prisoners ($950 million) and
  • Let all the sex offenders go ($127 million) and
  • Close(d) all the state parks ($52 million) and
  • Eliminate(d) Meals on Wheels for seniors ($7.1 million) and
  • Shut down 10 state college campuses ($146 million) and
  • Shut down the Departments of Health, Public Safety, Transportation and the rest of state government ($3.45 billion) that would add up to $5 billion"

Mr. Kalin then continued by saying: "But all those devastating cuts still wouldn't be enough to balance the budget because the deficit is growing every day."

Mr. Kalin, you might also consider, in your brilliant analysis, the savings that could be effected if government did away with all the police departments, fire departments and the schools too. After all we don't need any of them until emergencies arise or fires get started or children need to get an education!

And, while you are at it, you might also include in your further research an investigation into how much could be saved for the taxpayers if bloated full-time salaries and massive perdiems for part-time legislators would be eliminated. The citizen legislature concept is that legislators ought to have gainful outside employment and not be full-time bureaucrats as many of you are and have become.

In summary, since all the budget eliminations outlined by you in your Capitol Commentary still do not balance the budget as required by the state constitution might we not suggest that you and Senator Olseen start to get the picture that state government is way too big and you ought to be reducing it instead of increasing it. If you cannot understand that concept and act on it, clearly you are not representing the people and are only serving yourself.

4 comments:

brentandwendy said...

Mr. Kalin and his interpretation of House Research information has some flaws!
Just looking over the items that are easily extractable from the state agency budget profiles you see a number of errors. (www.mmb.state.mn.us/gov-bud-10) These figures are for the 2010-2011 budget.

Shutting down nursing homes? The state only runs and operates 5 veterans nursing homes. The budget for the 5 veterans homes is $91.4 million. The state provides medical assistance (MA) for those who cannot fully pay nursing home costs, but the statement that the state would “Shut down 20 percent of nursing homes in the state” implies that the state runs and manages many facilities. A very misleading statement!
According to House Research report (www.house.leg.state.mn.us/hrd/pubs/ltcelderly.pdf) the state budgeted $844 million for 2006-07 on nursing home payments via MA. Even if there where a 10% increase between then and the 2010-11 budget, you still can’t get to Kalin’s $191 million figure. Plus in the current budget proposal there would be no automatic cost increase for payments to nursing homes which would save $11 million.
Releasing all the jailed prisoners will not save the state $950 million. Releasing all inmates and closing the jails would save $673 million. Only a $277 million difference! The $950 million figure wipes out the entire corrections department including parolee supervision and other services, not just the jails. Another misleading statement and dollar amount.
Closing all the 74 state parks, 53 state forest campgrounds, etc. would save the state $42 million not $52 million. Only off by $10 million this time Mr. Kalin. Plus Mr. Kalin failed to mention that the DNR has purposed a $31 million reduction of general funding for 2010-11, which includes the parks system.
Closing 10 of the 54 state college campuses would save $225 million (by my estimate - budget x 10/54). That is $79 million more than the $146 million he stated. Maybe he is closing the cheap campuses.

Hey Kalin I have a few other areas you could trim the budget.
Instead of taking MA away from the elderly, why not save some money but cutting off some non-citizens receiving MA. We are spending millions on people who don’t even qualify for federal MA and may have never contributed taxes to the state! Even temporary residents can get MA. (www.house.leg.state.mn.us/hrd/pubs/ncitzhhs.pdf) Or, how about raising the $6 co-pay MA recipients pay for “non-emergency visits to a hospital emergency room”. If it is not an emergency make them pay half the bill! (www.house.leg.state.mn.us/hrd/pubs/medastib.pdf)
Closing the parks, why not threaten to close all the historical sites? They cost $8 million more to run ($50.2 million) and get an eighth of the visitors that the parks do. I suppose it isn’t as scary and affects more “users” when you threaten to close the parks. After all Mr. Kalin really wasn’t looking for real ways to save money, he wanted to scare us so we would be willing to pay more in taxes.
How about getting rid of the Public Defenders budget and have criminals pay for their own defense? That would save us $134 million. Why should I have to pay for some thug’s defense? There would be a lot less criminals if they had to pay for their own defense!
How about making some changes to the Barbers and Cosmetologist Board that we spend $1.6 million on. They are getting a 6.3% increase in the budget! God forbid I had an unlicensed barber cutting my hair! Can you imagine what might happen?
Or how about cutting the funding to the Combative Sports Commission (former Boxing Board)? It was supposed to have been self-supportive 3 years ago! They are still trying to get $160,000 to fund it. Force the commission to be self-supportive!
Finally, it is funny how Mr. Kalin failed to mention that the state could save $26 million if all the house and senate members forgo their pay! He also didn’t mention that in the current proposed budget they gave themselves a 1.5% (2 year total) raise! Not bad in this economy! I already know I won’t be getting any raise next year.

Also you can look over the Governor’s budget proposal at www.house.leg.state.mn.us/fiscal/files/09governorsummary.pdf

Don’t believe everything you read!!! Verify it yourself!!

Brent

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