Communities around the state are struggling to deal with the budget cuts imposed by Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s unallotment authority. Pawlenty signed into law $2.7 billion in cuts to local government aid, human services grants, higher education and medical assistance for the poor. Many parts of the state are bracing for the impact.
Northern Minnesota community colleges are preparing for a hit of 26 percent: “We’re looking really hard at areas where we can share costs,” said Sue Collins, president of the Northeast Higher Education District. “We’re also looking at how we can use technology to keep costs down, and pursuing more group purchasing to reduce the cost of supplies. Our preference is to keep from cutting people or programs that students need.”
White Bear lake will be cutting weed-spraying and scaling back snow plowing:
“The focus will be more on safety and less on convenience,” City Manager Mark Sather said. “You know, that difference between plowing snow when it’s 3 inches on a Sunday, or waiting until Monday to do it. People say, ‘I can get through, and I have to drive a little slower because they haven’t been salting and sanding, but the streets are still safe.’ ”
“It’s going to boil down to the level and amount of services that the clients will be seeing because of a reduction in funding,” Freeborn County Department of Human Services Director Brian Buhmann said. “We may see a waiting list for services. And we may see families having to step up to the plate even more.”
Rep. Tom Bakk, a gubernatorial hopeful, says that thousands of jobs will be lost in the wake of the unallotment: “In determining the impact of unallotment on Minnesota employment, [State Econoimist Tom Stinson] divided direct job losses through 2011 into: local government (non school) 1,630 – 1,970 positions; state government (including higher education) 870 – 1,630 positions; school districts 300 – 600 positions; and the private sector 500 positions. An additional 1,500 to 2,500 jobs could be lost as people without jobs purchase fewer goods, the industries losing employees purchase fewer supplies, etc.”
Brainerd is looking at cuts of $269,942 in local government aid for 2009 and $622,858 in 2010. City leaders say furloughs and retirements are a definite, but are still looking at options to make up the losses. “This year is going to be a difficult year for budgeting,” City Administrator Dan Vogt said. “In the type of budget times we’re in I think we need more direction from elected officials as far as coming in with a budget you’d like to see.”
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