Dick Palmer: Time for listening, not finger-pointing
Anyway we look at it, running government is going to take more than money to keep up with today's realities. Our legislative branches, at all levels, are facing an uphill battle engineering the expertise needed to support our varied governmental ...
Anyway we look at it, running government is going to take more than money to keep up with today's realities. Our legislative branches, at all levels, are facing an uphill battle engineering the expertise needed to support our varied governmental agencies and the services affiliated with those efforts. It is going to take more than loose talk and increased dollar projections to make a lasting investment in our social and economic needs. It is going to take cooperation and sacrifice, something our political system, at all levels, continues to pooh-pooh without hesitation.
I can't imagine a $2.23 trillion federal budget, but that seems to be the President Bush budget proposal in a nutshell.
Mind you, that is the federal budget and doesn't address state budget concerns, currently in limbo as state legislators roll up their sleeves. Minnesota is facing a $4.56 billion shortfall, and we are a relatively small state populationwise. For the record, as reported in recent census reports, the U.S. population is at 281,421,906 as of April 1, 2000. California has 33,871,648 citizens, followed by Texas and New York as the nation's most populated areas. Minnesota is way down the line at 4,919,479, and we have a $4.5 billion deficit to wrestle with. Can you possibly imagine the entire states' budget concerns? Whew is right.
Reality, unfortunately, is not generally the best barometer when addressing governmental issues. Posturing for power seems to be the most used ingredient. Because of the obvious complexities surrounding the budget process, getting general population interest is as redundant as fishing in the lake without bait on the hook.
We see a lot of tear jerking by our area legislators as Gov. Pawlenty's budget proposal heads through the hearing and debate process. It goes without saying that the pros and cons of the budget effort will follow party lines, not necessarily logical alternatives. This is perhaps the most challenging need for our state Legislature at the moment: facing the reality of the issues on the table. Instead of pointing emotional fingers at the other guys, lawmakers should seek solutions that will serve the entire needs of our state. The foregone conclusion is that the Legislature will create yet another overtime effort sometime this year with a final passage of a budget that will satisfy few, but will be the expedient result of legislative nonsense and misdirection.
Being a cynic is easy, but it goes with the territory. The only thing we can depend on, as the legislative process moves along, is the efforts by one political party or the other to confuse rather than defuse the real issues on the table. We have real issues and throwing a few bricks at the other guys is not the solution. Establishing a needs vs. a wants list of government services is, and that's where our legislative process continues to break down. Our politicians buy votes by giving away tax dollars to feather their own nests. There are, however, some pretty serious legislators on both sides of the aisle who truly want to do the right thing, but the power brokers won't let it happen. That's why it is essential for legislators to spend more time listening to county commissioners, city councilors, school board members and neighborhood leaders to get a firsthand look at the real issues facing this state. Wouldn't that be refreshing for a change?
Dick Palmer is the former editor and publisher of the Budgeteer News. He may be reached by telephone at 729-6470 or by e-mail at email@example.com .