Sunday, January 10, 2010

SD-26 : Mike Parry Big Idea : Cut My District $ 1,957,130 To Start

“A lot of times you’ll see that I’m not politically correct. I think being politically correct is nothing other than a way to hide what needs to be said,” said Mike Parry, Republican candidate for Senate District 26 Special Election.
"I don’t want to hurt your feelings, but I have ideas. If I’m getting spears thrown at me because I have ideas, then so be it, but somebody’s got to speak it.”

Mr. Parry went on to discuss his Big Idea … proposing a solution to the state’s looming billion-dollar budget crisis — a 15 percent cut across the board.

That’s telling it like he sees it --- cut State spending and let someone else worry about the consequences.
Now, a 15% cut could impact a lot of areas … everything from Education and Health Services to State Patrol and National Guard, but let’s just look at one area that has received a lot of discussion and how Mr. Parry’s Big Idea would impact our lives. That would be LGA (Local Government Aid) the program that provides monies for cities core services --- such as police, fire protection, libraries, roads, parks, senior centers and more.

Looking at just a few of the cities in SD-26 (Blooming Prairie, Ellendale, Faribault, Medford, Morristown, Owatonna and Waseca) who saw a $1,132,384 reduction earlier based on Governor Tim Pawlenty’s plan, they would now receive an additional reduction of $1,957,129.50 according to Mr. Parry’s 15% proposed reduction.

The consequences are a direct impact on economic development and the quality of life in these cities. Cities are faced with a non-desirable solutions … raise property taxes, raise water fees, charge fees for services and cut services. Specifically, the Owatonna Peoples Press warned Owatonna could see its high bond rating drop, which, in turn, could cost the city more money as interest on future loans might rise.”

Mr. Parry’s Big Idea is a Bad Idea. It reinforces the traditional viewpoint expressed by many Republicans that delude themselves that spending cuts can be used to starve the beast.
In 2002, LGA accounted for 4.4% of the state’s general fund; in 2008, LGA accounted for only 2.8%. That may not seem like a significant reduction, but over the years, it has cost cities hundreds of millions of dollars and has forced cities to operate as leanly as possible. However, because the items cities purchase—such as concrete for roads, fire engines, fuel for vehicles, etc.—have increased in price significantly since 2002 (so has inflation), revenue increases have been unavoidable. According to Governor Pawlenty’s own administration, property taxes across the state have risen 60% between 2002 and 2008—the same period in which LGA has seen drastic cuts. Cutting another $1,957,129.50 in LGA can only result in shifting more dollars on to the Property Tax bills.

Traditionally, Democrats have been just as likely to be afraid of being seen as tax increasers so they simply refuse to acknowledge reality. But that tradition is changing … Mr. Parry’s challenger, Jason Engbrecht said the state is in difficult times, the economy is going south, we’ve had a difficult couple of years, and we can’t afford to pay for all the commitments we’ve made. There’s no easy answer. I would like to able to tell you that we’re going to raise the revenue we need and make sure we give all the programs the boost that we would love to give them. I don’t think that’s realistic. I think what is realistic is talk about a mixture of raising revenue and also making difficult cuts where we need to make them.”
Mr. Engbrecht added that it’s possible that the Legislature won’t be able to raise funding to schools for the next couple of years. “I hate saying that. I’m on the school board right now and I know how difficult it is, but it may not be realistic if we want to balance the budget”

While Mr. Parry is trying to picture himself as being unabashed about being “politically correct”, Mr. Engbrecht is firmly based in reality.

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