Waiting for the bad news

I’ll be live blogging the news conference today at 11 during which the size of the state’s budget deficit will be made clear. Later, Gov. Pawlenty will hold his own news conference. A Webcast of the events will be available on the Minnesota Public Radio Web site.

Tom Stinson, the state economist, described Minnesota’s economy this way last month:

The National Bureau of Economic Research – the group that actually calls whether the U.S. is in a recession — says what they look for is an economic slump that is broad-based and of some significant duration. And what we’ve seen over the last six months in employment in Minnesota certainly qualifies.”

That earned him a rhetorical smackdown from the governor:

“Tom Stinson tends to be a bit on the pessimistic side of things, to put it charitably…I don’t think it’s helpful – unless it’s clearly justified by the data – for people to get overly pessimistic or overly scare people, either.”

Nonetheless, the smart money at the Capitol says the deficit could approach $1 billion, and even some top-ranking DFLers are saying the budget will have to be cut. So let’s take another whack at the “shared sacrifice game” while we’re waiting for the sessions to start:

If you were to give up something in the state budget from which you derive a benefit, what would it be?

I usually don’t get many responses when I ask the question.

  • MR

    I’d be willing to put in a slightly higher portion of my income. I find the shared services that are partially subsidized too valuable to give up (roads, transit, high-quality education), so I’m willing to pay more.

  • brian

    I agree with MR… but I think an income tax increase is not going to happen under the current Governor.

    I would say I would give up state money for stadiums, but it is a little late for that and I don’t personally use them. I guess the only think I can think of that I use and am willing to give up some of is the roads. I’d be willing to put up with a few more potholes in order to not have to cut from education spending and social services.

  • b2

    I formed my answer before reading the first comment! I’m not sure which other State benefits I enjoy, but I would give up a couple of lattes a week to see better roads and lower tuition at state colleges and U. When I was 17 my mother paid my tuition to the U of M Mpls. for about one week of her secretary’s paycheck per quarter and I saved one quarter’s worth in the summer with a 10-week minimum-wage job. How long has it been since that was possible? Having offered up my lattes however, I have to add that I would resent having to pay for the failure to plan of the powers that are. Thirty years ago I wrote an article (unpublished) called “Benjamin Franklin and the Interstate Freeway” based on the info. I had read that when Philadelphia was laid out Franklin planned out a public works budget for 100 years forward – I discovered then that there was no such plan for the just-beginning-to-disintegrate I-roads.

  • Anna

    I’m with MR as well – I’d rather pay more in, but that just doesn’t seem likely (I’m past giving up the lattes – those are pretty much gone, I’d be giving up new books for me and possibly my kid). That said, I’d rather see cuts from pretty much anything but education and health. Those just can’t be cut anymore. We saw how well the Chamber of Commerce support of the transportation bill worked, maybe it’s time that business step up and help out more. It’s in the interest of business to have good roads, and an educated and healthy workforce. If Mr. Pawlenty can’t see clear to have us pay for what we need, maybe the business leaders need to help him see the light (since he doesn’t seem to listen to anyone else – including us taxpayers who are willing to pay more).

  • Alison

    At home, we start by cutting the extras (skip going to the movies and read a book from the library, board games) and delaying the more long term projects (currently delayed – new car and new kitchen cabinets). We save our money for things like food, heat, and medicine.

    So what in the state fits these criteria?

    State park hours and building the newly purchased state park. And yes, I use and love the parks and would be affected, but then again, I hate my kitchen cupboards.

    The Gopher stadium – Can we slow this down? Maybe not, I don’t know the details of the funding.

    University and other state building upgrades delayed (like my cabinets)?

    We need to save money for the food, heat, and medicine of the state – education, public safety, and social welfare programs.

    Of course, small tax increases and closing loopholes are the preferred route for me, but to paraphrase what others have said – fat chance.

  • c

    Anna had commented on the fact that our Good Govena’ doesn’t listen to anyone. Well he sure does. He listens to what the people who pay for his campaigning want. So what we really need to do is go to the people who are financially supporting Pawlenty’s Regime and ask them to stop whacking the social programs.

  • michael

    i am more than willing to pay higher taxes in exchange for better services for all minnesotians

    i suggest we recind all tax breaks that were extended to companies with sales above $500,000.00 per year.

  • Becky

    More taxes. I don’t want Minnesota to go down the tubes just so we can save a few bucks.

  • SDK

    All Minnesotans should be required to live outside of the state of Minnesota for at least 2 years. Then they would understand what it is that makes Minnesota what it is. They would stop winging over their taxes and happily pay for a great quality of life.

    We have been working off of the good planning of politicians of yesteryear and that cushion is running out. Buck up, get back to paying for education, parks, health care, transit and social services and we can sleep well at night again.

  • brian

    I really like Alison’s post.

    It seems to me that most people aren’t really answering the question. I agree that some form of higher taxes is preferable to cutting state programs, but that is not going to happen under the current administration.

    I wouldn’t be willing to give up MPR, but I would be willing to contribute more if the state cut it’s funding (I’m not actually sure what if anything the state contributes to it). It might take some convincing for my wife to agree to that though.