A modest budget-cutting proposal: Government-free zones


St. Paul Pioneer Press reporter Bill Salisbury, in his “Cut, Cut, Cut,” article today, affirms what most of us have known for quite some time: conservative gubernatorial aspirants insist Minnesota should only budget cut its way out of the state deficit. 

That approach, implemented last summer by Governor Pawlenty, isn’t working. Minnesota revenue is stagnating because the economy is stagnating. Conservative public policy leaders and advocates, without exception, insist Minnesota only has a spending problem rather than a revenue problem. Profligate, out-of-control government is solely to blame. Reducing government, they insist, will solve all problems.

Perhaps, I’ve been too harsh, too dismissive of this policy argument. For the sake of experimentation, let’s pursue the conservative suggestion. Let’s immediately curtail all state monies flowing to the districts and/or home communities of State Representatives Tom Emmer and Marty Seifert; former State Representative Bill Hass; former State Senator David Hann; former State Auditor Pat Anderson; and businessman Phil Herwig.

This means no more state highway or public safety funds, no education money, no more MNDOT service center hours, no more state health inspectors, and no Met Council utility and infrastructure expansion projects. We’ll have to close Southwest Minnesota State University, of course, because it’s in Marshall, Rep. Seifert’s home town. Milaca, Mr. Herwig’s home town, wouldn’t be able to have the nursing home without state financial assistance. I can’t imagine that Eagan’s Thompson-Reuters, BCBS of Minnesota, Coca-Cola Bottling and UPS hub will function without state transportation infrastructure but perhaps Ms. Anderson will successfully explain to Eagan residents that a government-free greater good is worth embracing.

I suspect that true government-free zones will look like the financial equivalent of grossly contaminated Superfund clean-up sites, incapable of supporting life. This conservative anti-government attacks seems untenable, with residents losing far more than they gain. Unless, of course, conservatives really want other constituencies to bear budget cuts while they and their supporters continue to enjoy Minnesota’s rich opportunities and investments.

I believe that Minnesota’s rewards should flow to every Minnesotan. We contribute differently but we contribute. I’m reluctant to harm hard-working Minnesotans because of the blind ideological precepts of a few gubernatorial contenders but, maybe, we should let their home communities test the painful waters first.

I await Seifert, Emmer, Hass, Hann, Anderson and Herwig’s enthusiastic, voluntary response.