Wednesday, December 04, 2002

The Truth Is Out There

Good news out of St. Paul today. The massive spending increases approved by the Minnesota state legislature and Governor Ventura over the past 4 have finally been revealed to be highly irresponsible and negligent, as many economic analysts have been predicting for some time.

According to a report released by State Economist Tom Stinson the government has already made plans to spend $4.56 billion dollars over the next 2 1/2 years in excess of the amount its tax structure will confiscate from its citizenry in revenues (a tax structure already considered to be among the highest and most honerous in the United States). Shockingly, this projected deficit represents over 13% of the total budget. In the private sector, mindless and careless spending of this nature typically draws criminal complaints from creditors and at the very least an appointment with Jack Prescott. However, I've seen no indication of any such measures being considered regarding the government's impropriety.

Representatives of the two interest groups primarily responsible for this gross fiduciary malfeasance, namely the employees of government and the clients of government, did have a few comments regarding this widening scandal. As reported by government funding beneficiary Minnesota Public Radio:

Advocates for low-income Minnesotans say they're worried that at a time when more people need state services, Republicans will want to slash government programs.

Members of the Welfare Rights Committee protested outside the budget forecast release. They worry that the budget will be balanced on the backs of poor people. Kim Hosmer says lawmakers squandered the budget surpluses of several years ago on tax cuts for the rich.

"While the rich were getting richer and getting big tax breaks, the number of kids becoming homeless in Minnesota skyrocketed. While the rich lined their pockets, more and more of our families stand in line at homeless shelters and soup kitchens. We say, make the rich pay," Hosmer said.

Groups such as the Children's Defense Fund and Minnesota Council of Nonprofits are already calling for a tax increase to balance the budget. They say a budget based on spending cuts will hurt children and vulnerable Minnesotans.

[Note - I've submitted the above comments to local experts on rhetoric and abnormal psychology and the consensus belief is that they were intended to be satirical and meant for comedic purposes. And if not, an immediate intervention is recommended before these individuals hurt themselves or others.]

However, a few of the beneficiaries of the state's profligate spending habits, those who appear to have a conscience and the ability to feel shame are now backpedaling and making long overdue, yet refreshingly lucid, comments relating to a redress of this financial mess. According to the Star Tribune:

The looming shortfall is so large that "we are not going to grow our way out of it," said state economist Tom Stinson. "It's just too big."

It is also so large that if the state budget is balanced without tax increases, as Gov.-elect Tim Pawlenty has promised, or other boosts in revenue, overall state spending would decline in real terms for the first time in modern history, said acting Finance Commissioner Anne Barry.

The Tim Pawlenty, mushy middle of the Republican party always makes me nervous in that I question its commitment to their own political rhetoric. I do believe he doesn't want to raise taxes. But he strikes me as the type who would raise them, "reluctantly" of course, for the sake of political expediency and in the face of a withering blitz of negative media coverage (which MPR has already begun). But I'd prefer not to have my suspicions confirmed on this matter. Tim Pawlenty - I want to believe.

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