Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Expanding Our Vocabulary and Tightening Our Belts

I have learned a new word ---unallotment. It isn't even in my 2001 edition of "Webster's II New College Dictionary". It might be new to you too if you don't live in Minnesota.
It means withdrawal of previously appropriated funds.

Like most other states, Minnesota is facing a huge budget deficit. Even after a few billion from the feds, we are short $4,600,000,000.00. Our legislature convened in January and began working on the budget. We are mandated by law to balance the budget. States cannot print money like Washington. The legislature and the governor were at odds. Lawmakers could not make deep cuts that they thought too painful to healthcare etc. The governor hung tough. As time grew short, he told them not to send him a budget that spent more than anticipated income or he would veto it. They sent him a budget that was billions too high. He vetoed it.

The legislature could not reach an agreement to cut spending to match income before the session ended. Other years, when this happened, the governor has called a special session ( an extension) to continue the haggling. This year he didn't. He said he would fix it himself by using a law allowing executive order of "unallotment" to balance the books. Many people are cheering him on. If he had called a special session we would probably have the expense of paying legislators "overtime" and still no agreement.

Ordinary prudent people practice unallotment in their personal budgets. Those who don't, have crushing credit card debt or worse financial woes. Unallotment slashes spending if you don't have the money coming in. Paycheck and bills must match.

It is refreshing to watch this governor deal realistically even if we are going to have some painful cuts in this state. One of the things that passed through this state legislature was 32 million for a practice ice rink for the NFL hockey team. Sorry fellows, learn to skate outdoors like they did in the glory days of hockey in this state. It made those small town northern Minnesota teams tough contenders. We don't have an extra 32 million this year. We are skating on thin ice.

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