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Letter to the Editor

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Government Will Have to Live Within its Means

The latest budget forecast for Minnesota was issued today and it,

unfortunately, is not good news. The forecast indicates a $1.2 billion

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shortfall through June and a $5.4 billion shortfall in the two-year

cycle which follows.

State officials indicate about 70 percent of the shortfall is linked to

a decline in income tax received by the state. The combination of a

higher unemployment rate and 5.5 percent less wages being paid to

workers has been detrimental.

Now, the days of government growth and excessive spending must be

replaced by long-term commitments to job creation and fiscal

responsibility. First of all, it is more important than ever to create

jobs in Greater Minnesota to stimulate our economy and broaden

Minnesota's tax base to provide the state with an infusion of

revenue.

We need more job incentives and burdensome regulations repealed on job

creators instead of increasing the tax burden.

Minnesota's spending has increased by about 140 percent since the early

'90s and our taxpayers simply cannot afford to sustain that growth. In

2007, when the Democrats took control of the Minnesota House, we had a

$2 billion surplus in Minnesota. To quote a former DFL minority leader,

when he called out the current Speaker last spring for "failed

leadership," it is one big reason we've had a string of budget

shortfalls adding up to a shift of several billion dollars toward the

red.

Re-sizing, re-prioritizing and reform must become a part of the

solution! This is largely why the Governor has recently unveiled a

proposal to match state spending with revenue received. It's what

families and small businesses do and may go a long way to helping us off

our budgetary roller coaster.

I am empathetic to our local governments and schools who establish a

budget only to have numbers change when actual revenue is tallied.

Basing our budget on the prior two years of revenue received would

eliminate the guesswork and protect these entities from being blindsided

by necessary cuts.

If Minnesota citizens are sacrificing to make ends meet, government

will also have to live within its means; that applies to government at

all levels--from local to state and federal. Talk of matching government

spending with revenue received has moved beyond a seemingly novel idea;

this approach may now be imperative.

The Senate Tax Committee is holding a hearing on this proposal on Dec.

7 to begin the discussions. The upcoming session which begins in

February will prove again to be a challenging one.

Torrey Westrom

State Representative

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