Friday, September 17, 2010

Reviewing Cuts, A Policy Debate

A Republican candidate for MN Senate District 64, Tony Hernandez, has listed 10 places he feels we can save about 2 billion dollars. I thought I would share where I am on each of his items:
1. Reduce legislators' and constitutional officers pay by 10%: $1.3 million
No more than a token gesture, but I could support this. However, the consequence of this is making it more difficult to attract competent and qualified individuals to run for these thankless positions.
2. Freeze state employee salary increases for two years: $18.7 million

3. Freeze U of M employee pay increases for two years (via U of M's
"General Compensation" appropriation request): $95 million
To expect only certain groups of employees to be 'taxed' by having their pay frozen seems unfair. If this Republican candidate is in favor of only taxing public employees he should state that. If he is serous about 'freezing wages' which in effect is nothing more than a tax by taking away the nominal increase, maybe he should consider an across the board payroll withholding surcharge so that everyone see a freeze in wages. I am not in favor of this, but I am in favor of fairness. Expecting small slivers of the workforce to bear the brunt is not fair!
4. Change Renters Tax Credit to actual percent of rent paid toward property tax: $60 million
I am open to this
5. Eliminate Integration Revenue- The Intergration Revenue program, a component of the K-12 education funding formula, is supposed to provide money to certain school districts for integration-related activities: $132 million
I am not familiar with this program
5. Reform the Social Security Title IV-D program so child support services are paid only to parents that qualify for public assistance. $258.3 million
I am not sure what this means, Does it mean my ex, who is $60,000 in arrears and hiding in another state would no longer have to be responsible for her obligation. The need for inter agency cooperation is the only way I have seen any of the court ordered payments. Furthermore, a portion of any payments received is deducted from the support I do receive to pay for the services.

I can manage with my ex's refusal to pay her obligations, but how many families currently 'not receiving public assistance' would by thrust back into said assistance if their ability to collect support through this programs help dried up. Now we are back to not only paying to help them collect support, but also to provide for their welfare. This idea might save a dime in one area, only to spend a dollar in another
6. Merge Child Care assistance programs into one for greater efficiency. $23.3 million
I'm all for greater efficiency as long as service remains consistent
7. Eliminate family, Friend, & Neighbor grants--this program puts the state in charge of monitoring and directing childcare by relatives. $743,000
I would have to learn more about this program, but I think I could be persuaded
8. Sell excess state lands-the DNR, the DOT and the IRRB together hold millions of acres of idle, acquired, and commercial lands that should be sold back to private parties.
I would be open to long term, unrestricted leases agreements but am adamantly opposed to selling title to any publicly owned lands.
9. Repeal the public school staff development mandate: $175 million
I have always been an proponent of more local control, so anytime we eliminate state mandates is a good thing.
10. Reduce LGA payments by weaning local units of government off over a four-year period would save the tax payer substantial amounts of money and push cities to enact more responsible, locally oriented budget priorities. $1.069 billion over next 2 biennia
The LGA battle is interesting as it has been shown to not really save taxpayers anything, it only has been shown to shift the tax burden for the state to local property taxes. I do feel the state has some responsibility to compensate local units of government when it is unrealistic to expect their property taxes to maintain local services. Whether this is public safety in rural Minnesota, or local infrastructure support int he larger cities.

As is usually the case here at Centrisity, policy before politics.


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