MN budget cuts hit courts, schools, counties


Without money to cover state judicial system needs, five Minnesota counties will begin sharing judges this week. Freeborn, Steele and Winona counties will share judges with Mower and Olmsted counties for a year, reports the Star Tribune. Winona County also has a waiting list for public defenders to represent defendants in criminal cases.

Charter schools are also feeling the pinch, because of delays in funding implemented by Governor Tim Pawlenty. The Star Tribune reports that many charter schools will have to borrow and pay interest on loans. So will public district schools, but they at least have an option of asking for increased tax levies.

Delayed payments are an annual part of the school funding landscape; 10 percent was deferred last year, for example. But as part of the state’s budget-balancing act this spring, 27 percent of what’s allocated for schools this year won’t be paid until next year, a scenario that will repeat itself again in 2010.

And in Stearns County, some workers required to take an unpaid furlough day were gone from their jobs on Friday and others will be gone on Tuesday. The Strib reports that county workers were given the options of taking their furlough days around the July 4 or Labor Day weekends. MPR reports that rural Minnesota is seeing another looming shortfall, with already-scarce public transportation being cut:

No shortage of demand but a definite shortage of money. Already Mn/DOT has cut $400,000 to rural transit providers. Another cut of a million and half dollars is on the horizon….

If people resist paying more taxes to supply rural transit and if enough volunteers can’t be found, there are still other options.

The most obvious is people moving to areas with more transit options.