Minnesota Management and Budget’s (MMB’s) November Budget and Economic Forecast projected a $1.273 billion state budget shortfall for the upcoming biennium.
Minnesota’s budget has increased over 150% since the first day of former Governor Mark Dayton’s administration. The majority of budgets enacted in that timeframe have increased spending by double-digit percentages, even as other measures of economic growth (job creation, GDP growth, etc.) have lagged. That level of spending was unsustainable in the long-term, and even more so in the context of a pandemic-induced recession.
In order to both help Minnesotans now and set up our state and economy for future success and growth, lawmakers must reject harmful tax increases, focus on better delivery of essential services, and live within their means – like every family and small business has been forced to do.
The Legislature needs to shift from a “nice to have” to a “need to have” mentality given the new realities we are all facing. Now is the time to re-evaluate and re-prioritize, rather than looking for new revenue to cover the cost of business as usual. Any quick-fix solutions calling for tax increases would only add more government-imposed barriers to economic recovery at a time when individuals and businesses are working just to make ends meet.
Given pre-COVID-19 headlines and audits detailing billions wasted through mismanagement, lax oversight, and outright fraud, the Legislature should dive in to address these problems with renewed vigor and an eye not to simply “cut spending”, but to ensure that resources are only allocated where they actually return value.