Minneapolis leaders respond to Gov. Pawlenty’s Budget Cuts
June 16, 2009 (MINNEAPOLIS) - Following are statements from Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and City Council President Barb Johnson on Governor Pawlenty’s action today to cut funds to cities across Minnesota:
Mayor Rybak statement:
"Today Governor Pawlenty has made his choices about how to cut the state budget. I deeply disagree with the governor because his choices will hurt many people. The governor has offered no plan for putting people to work, only for cutting jobs during a tough economy, and has offered no strategy for fixing a broken state budget that continues to lurch from deficit to deficit.
Earlier this year, we revised our 2009 city budget based on the cuts we anticipated the Governor would make. Because we did that, the City of Minneapolis will not need to make any more cuts to our budget in 2009. This is exactly how we have faced budget challenges before. Over the past several years while the state has been lurching from fiscal crisis to fiscal crisis, Minneapolis has eliminated nearly $90 million in debt, controlled our spending much better than the state, and made city services more efficient. As a result, we have balanced our budget every year and for years to come.
I deeply disagree with Governor Pawlenty’s choices, but as Mayor I have a job to do and that job is to preserve and create jobs and keep my city safe. People are looking for solutions and we are going to find solutions. It won’t be easy, but we have made tough decisions before and we will do it again:
• These cuts mean the loss of thousands of jobs in healthcare, our largest job sector, so my job will be to work with our employers and training facilities to grow and preserve jobs. The city budget we adopted left every job program in tact and we are delivering even more jobs for youth this summer.
• These cuts mean fewer funds for police officers, so my job will be to keep our city safe and maintain the gains we’ve made in reducing crime for more than two years in a row. Public safety will remain our top budget priority.
• These cuts mean the state budget will still be in deep structural deficit for years to come, so my job will be to continue to keep Minneapolis fiscally sound with less debt and a healthy budget reserve. We will not follow the state’s fiscal example of short-term fixes that create long-term problems. We will continue long-term planning that pays down debt and controls spending.
Because of the economic growth strategy we have in place, the City of Minneapolis is positioned to create jobs, grow locally-based industries and compete in a global marketplace. Although Governor Pawlenty has made it more difficult for us to create jobs and turn the economy around. It means we will work even harder to look beyond these cuts to build a stronger economy and a safer region."
City Council President Johnson statement:
"Unlike the State, the City of Minneapolis has addressed its financial challenges head-on by paying down debt, doing long-term financial planning, and delivering services more efficiently. If the State had been as disciplined about managing its finances as we have been, they wouldn’t be in this situation."
"It is important for everyone to understand that cuts made by the Governor are massive and will be felt by every Minnesotan, and unfortunately those cuts still will not solve the State’s budget problem. Since 2003 the Governor has cut more than $50 million from the fund Minneapolis uses to pay for police officers and firefighters. The people of Minneapolis contribute much more to the state in taxes than we get back, and once again, the Governor has chosen to take the State’s financial problems and pass them on to cities across Minnesota. As local governments, we provide direct services to our residents and visitors—unlike the State, we can’t pass those cuts on to someone else. That’s means we’ll have to continue to make tough choices."
"Minneapolis, like many other cities across the state, won’t just be affected by direct cuts in funding to cities. Cuts to higher education and healthcare will also hit those two fields hard, and as some of Minneapolis’ biggest employers, the region’s economy will suffer."
Published Jun. 16, 2009