Tenant advocate Eric Hauge said Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s decision to cut $50.8 million in next year’s rent credit is the same as a tax increase.
“That’s how a homeowner would react to a decrease in their property tax refund,” said Hauge, who works for Minneapolis-based Home Line. “This is no different.”
Pawlenty Tuesday announced more than $2.6 billion in unallotments for the next biennium to balance the budget, including the rent credit cut. Earlier this spring, he vetoed the DFL-controlled legislature’s proposed tax increases. He declined to call it back into session, choosing to balance the budget himself with cuts.
For the full list of cuts, click here. The seven-page document includes short explanations for each cut. For instance, it says the rent credit is cut from 19 percent of rent paid to 15 percent, “to more accurately reflect actual property taxes paid.”
Hauge said 28 percent of those receiving the credit are seniors and/or persons with disabilities. All are low-income. Hauge said the average 2006 rent credit was $550. The formula change cuts it by 21 percent or $115 on average, though the exact amount varies, depending on the renter’s income.
Sue Abderholden, executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, said the biggest cut for her constituents was to the Children and Community Services (CCSA) grants. The governor said he will cut 25 percent in the first year and 33 percent in the second. (That translates to a $32.9 million cut over the biennium.)
The grants fund county programs for child protection, children’s mental health, pregnant adolescents, vulnerable adults, people with developmental disabilities or chemical dependency and more. The county has to fund child protection services and programs for vulnerable adults, Abderholden said. Funding for other programs, such as in-home supports for children with mental illness, will fall off.
The University of Minnesota is taking a $50 million cut in the second year of the biennium. That’s a 7.5 percent cut in its general fund money.
In a prepared statement, President Robert Bruininks said while the unallotment was better than the projected last week at a Regent’s meeting, “it still represents a deep reduction to our operating budget.”
Reactions to the cuts are still coming in. Are you affected by the unallotments? Do you know someone who is? What do you think of unallotment as a strategy for balancing the budget? Share your comments here.
Scott Russell is a journalist. He wrote for the Southwest Journal and Skyway News (now the Downtown Journal) in Minneapolis from 1999-2005. He also wrote for The Capital Times, a Madison Wisconsin daily, from 1993-1999. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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