Archive for April, 2011
April 27, 2011
The Minnesota Legislature has less than a month left to balance the projected $5.1 billion shortfall in the general fund. The task won’t be accomplished unless policy-makers give serious attention to reforming the delivery – and reducing the cost – of public health programs. Don’t take our word for it: The warning has been sounded repeatedly for too many years.
The facts are undisputed. Minnesota is headed on a collision course in terms of an aging population and increased demand for public services coupled with a slowdown in the growth of our taxpaying workforce that pays for these programs. The pressure on the health and human services budget is especially worrisome. Left unaltered, that portion of the state budget is projected to increase by 42 percent over the next two years.
This news should surprise no one, especially those charged with crafting public policy. The Weber-Brandl report in the mid-1990s forecast the changing demographics and their impact on the long-term stability of state and local governments. A similar message has been carried by State Economist Tom Stinson and State Demographer Tom Gillaspy.
In a 2009 report to the Legislature, the Minnesota Budget Trends Study Commission Report warned: “Demographic trends are about to transform Minnesota’s public sector, permanently changing our economic growth and government services. The baby boomers, the nation’s largest generational cohort, are now reaching retirement age.” The Minnesota Bottom Line report, also issued in 2009, offered recommendations on how to provide government services but spend less during a time of severe budget shortfall.
It’s time for policy-makers to act on the reform recommendations that improve the way we care for our most vulnerable citizens while developing a system that is sustainable and effective.
April 25, 2011
Minnesota’s business community cares about jobs, and we think most Minnesotans do too. Every day families are making tough choices. State government must face up to the same financial realities as they balance the budget. It comes down to this: “Spend what you have, not what you want.”
My Minnesota – mymn.org – a nonpartisan initiative of the Coalition of Minnesota Businesses, is designed to change the way citizens talk with each other about the issues that affect Minnesota’s economic security and everyday quality of life. The CMB is an organization of 11 employer groups representing more than 20,000 employers with hundreds of thousands of employees across the state, Please join the conversation and underscore to policy-makers the importance of building the state’s budget based on the available revenues for the next two years. Visit www.mymn.org.
April 11, 2011
Minnesota’s current utility policy unfairly targets business ratepayers and sends the wrong message to our state’s job-providers. We need to provide fairness and predictability in rate case revenue allocation, which will help encourage economic growth in Minnesota. For some businesses, the price of energy is 25 percent of the overall cost of production. Businesses like these need to know that regulators will not use their rates to subsidize those of other customers.
Minnesota needs to continue its tradition of competitively priced energy. Large employers are often large energy users, and energy pricing and policy are among the primary factors a business considers when determining whether to move to, expand in or leave a location. For some Minnesota companies, our rate policy is too unpredictable to promote development.
The Public Utilities Commission has used energy rate-setting procedures as a means to burden the business community, creating harm not just to business but to the residents who rely on these employers for their livelihood.
Advocates of subsidies at the expense of business rely on a 1970s case that claims business can absorb and pass on rate increases more than other classes. This is simply untrue. Today, more than ever, our Minnesota businesses are competing on a global level. No business can take on unnecessary operating increases and simply pass those along. Markets are not set in a neighborhood, but increasingly on a national or international scale. We need to make sure Minnesota energy rates remain competitive.