At one point, Republicans on the committee steered the conversation toward their concern over the size of the Governor’s roughly $42 billion two-year budget.
Rep. Linda Runbeck, R-Circle Pines, said she recognized Minnesota is different from Illinois, but she implied that Minnesota could take its budgeting cues from Illinois.
“The state of Illinois is making some big cuts in their state budget,” she said. “It shocked me to find out that they have a population of 12.8 million and their current budget is at $38 billion.”
Runbeck’s statement doesn’t make much sense in context.
Parts of Runbeck’s statement are accurate.
For instance, there are about 12.8 million people living in Illinois.
And it’s true that the state’s newly elected Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner is proposing big budget cuts to close the state’s $6 billion budget gap without raising taxes.
Runbeck clarified that she was talking about Illinois’ projected budget growth to $38 billion. Rauner’s 2016 budget proposal would trim spending to $31.5 billion.
But it’s difficult to compare Minnesota’s budget situation to Illinois’ for a number of reasons.
In part, because Minnesota has a $1 billion budget surplus, while Illinois has a deficit.
And Illinois budgets on a one-year cycle, while Minnesota budgets on a two-year cycle.
To do an apples-to-apples comparison, it makes more sense to look at how much Dayton is proposing the state spends annually – and in that case, it’s far less than Illinois at roughly $20.8 billion for fiscal year 2016.
But annually, Dayton’s proposed general fund budget would spend more than Illinois per capita.
If the Legislature passes Dayton’s plan, the state would spend roughly $3,700 annually per person. If the Illinois legislature approves Rauner’s plan, the state would spend $2,500 per person.
Runbeck said she knows it’s difficult to do an apples-to-apples comparison of the two states. She’s mostly impressed with Rauner’s decision to cut spending so aggressively.
“We’re always talking about MN budget, but we never do a compare and contrast,” she told PoliGraph.
While what Runbeck said is technically accurate, her mention of Illinois implies that Minnesota ‘s general fund budget is enormous by comparison.
But that comparison is a poor one because Illinois has a one-year budget, while Minnesota’s covers two years.
For taking the situation out of context, Runbeck’s claim earns a misleading.