14 thoughts on “OK, Smarty-Pants, YOU Fix It…

  1. PM says:

    I did it!

    It was pretty easy, but the only trick to it is that I can’t tell you how i did it until after you elect me as your Governor.

    So vote for me to find out how to balance the budget with no pain at all!

  2. Newt says:

    What if we froze government spending for 3 years?

    I know that sounds Draconian to those accustomed to state government growing double-digits annually since 1970.

  3. Newt –

    C’mon…do the work to back up your ideas. What does that translate into in terms of actual spending cuts. The mymnbudget site give you all the tools you need to tell us how much you’d cut out of education, transportation, etc. Let’s see what it looks like!

    Cheers.

    Austin

  4. Newt says:

    And now this …

    In the first 19 months of the Obama administration, the federal debt held by the public increased by $2.5260 trillion, which is more than the cumulative total of the national debt held by the public that was amassed by all U.S. presidents from George Washington through Ronald Reagan.

  5. Kevin says:

    The state budgets on a two-year basis, so freezing spending for three years is a difficult time frame to analyze. On a two-year cycle, if you left state spending where it is right now the state would spend roughly $30.7 billion thru 2013. Of course, a spending freeze is not really a spending cut because freezing implies remaining flat. It’s only a cut if – as the website does – you automatically build in an assumption that spending must increase by a given amount and then make that amount the new starting point. Try that next time you ask for a raise at work and tell us how it goes.

  6. Kevin –

    You’re right that the mymnbudget site has a built-in bias that spending is going to rise, but that’s a bias based on laws as currently enacted (I think). Even so, you could adjust the spending levels down to the appropriate levels.

    So…if you wanted to do that, would you apply an 8-10 percent across the board cut? Are some programs more worthy or important than others and should be spared (on an actual or relative basis)?

    Newt, which way do you swing? Are you a broadsword “cut ’em all” budget reducer or more of the surgeon-with-a-scalpel kind of cutter?

    – Austin

    PS – Still not done with my budget. I’m shocked – shocked! – to discover this problem takes me more than 24 hours to figure out. I suspect the reason there’s no macro “cut everything X%” buttons on the site is to make people like me acknowledge the complexity of going line-by-line through each program.

  7. Joe Loveland says:

    If I have $100 million for roads this year and freeze the roads budget at $100 million for next year, will I have the same amount of road improvement? Not if the price of road materials — asphalt, cement, signage material, equipment, contractor bids — increased at something like the rate of inflation, which it reliably does.

    Yes, the road budget is frozen, not cut. BUT such a budget “freeze” will undeniably “cut” the amount of road improvements the taxpayers enjoys, by an amount somewhere around the rate of inflation, 3%. And if I apply such a budget freeze over a number of years, the cut in road improvements will compound.

    Given the circumstances, we surely will need to freeze dollars in some areas. But we shouldn’t delude ourselves — during a time of inflation, a freeze of dollars does effectively lead to a cut in the product delivered to us. It seems obvious to point this out, but this tired old “it’s not a cut” discussion never goes away…

  8. Newt says:

    More bad news for the DFL …

    By PAUL HAVEN, Associated Press Writer Paul Haven, Associated Press Writer – Wed Sep 8, 3:18 pm ET

    HAVANA – Fidel Castro told a visiting American journalist that Cuba’s communist economic model doesn’t work, a rare comment on domestic affairs from a man who has conspicuously steered clear of local issues since stepping down four years ago.

    The fact that things are not working efficiently on this cash-strapped Caribbean island is hardly news. Fidel’s brother Raul, the country’s president, has said the same thing repeatedly. But the blunt assessment by the father of Cuba’s 1959 revolution is sure to raise eyebrows.

    Jeffrey Goldberg, a national correspondent for The Atlantic magazine, asked if Cuba’s economic system was still worth exporting to other countries, and Castro replied: “The Cuban model doesn’t even work for us anymore” Goldberg wrote Wednesday in a post on his Atlantic blog.

    1. Joe Loveland says:

      That’s an excellent point, Newt. I’m now rethinking my longstanding plans to bring the communist economic model to Minnesota. Thanks for the enlightenment.

  9. Freezing spending is a CUT if…population increases or there is inflation. The state’s official demographer says “Minnesota population projected to grow 24 percent from 2005 to 2035” so it looks like there are going to be more people. Is there inflation? Over the last decade we’ve averaged about two percent a year. So yes – a freeze is a cut.

    1. Joe Loveland says:

      Right, and the medical inflation rate, which drives much of the growth in government spending, is in the 10% per year range. So, a freeze in health care spending constitutes an especially large cut in health care services.

  10. I got pretty close by cutting about 10 percent from nearly every line for department-level spending (let’s find administrative inefficiencies!), raising income taxes to about 1998 levels, removing several exemptions from the sales tax, and making a few other cuts here and there.

    I’m satisfied with “pretty close” because, unless I’m missing something, there isn’t an option to increase the sales tax rate. I’m pretty sure I’d make up some significant ground with an uptick there — perhaps even instead of an income tax. 🙂

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