Mayor Coleman says budget shortfall should be ‘opportunity’ to restructure government operations

St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, who may have his eyes on the governor’s office in 2010, issued this statement about the state’s revenue shortfall less than an hour after the official announcement this morning.

He says the state should use this opportunity to “restructure and rethink” how it does business, much like he’s done in St. Paul in recent years. And please, legislators, don’t cut aid to cities.
Here’s his statement:

“This is an unprecedented moment for our State. Our reaction to this crisis will determine Minnesota’s path for a generation. We must seize this moment to restructure and rethink how we deliver services. This is our time to lead by investing in the values that have made Minnesota great. We can build ourselves out of this crisis and again make ourselves a model for the nation.

“Cities across Minnesota have been making painful budget decisions for many years under circumstances amplified by dwindling revenues and an unforgiving national economic climate.

“In Saint Paul we have changed the way the City does business; we have modernized our operations and enhanced service delivery to our residents. It wasn’t an easy road, but we made tough choices to restructure our parks and recreation department, audit our fire and police departments, and consolidate functions into a new department of safety and inspections.

“We invested in our police and fire departments, our parks, and our libraries. We had to raise new revenues to do this in the face of more than $100 million in cuts to local government aid. However, we came together to make those decisions because we never lost sight of what makes Saint Paul a great place to live. We invested in our values. These have been difficult and sometimes painful choices, but in the end they have made us a stronger community. Today, Saint Paul’s budget is balanced, but Minnesota cities can ill afford new cuts in revenue.

“Now is not the time for rhetoric or infighting. We are all going to have to make tough choices in the months ahead. Following the lead of Minnesota’s cities, it is now the State’s turn to rethink service delivery – and I urge all parties to treat this not as an opportunity to diminish what we do but enhance what makes Minnesota a great place to live. Passing the buck won’t work, and we can’t afford to turn our backs on any federal stimulus that will put Minnesota families back to work.

“Over the last eight years we’ve been sold a bill of goods. Politicians and pundits have worked tirelessly to convince us that disinvestment would somehow lead to prosperity. It hasn’t. The rhetoric that government is somehow an obstacle to stimulating the economy or helping families prosper is simply false. The policies that were borne out of these falsehoods have left our local government ill-equipped to respond to a struggling economy. Now is our time to reverse this course.

“There are no easy ways to solve this problem – but there are wrong ways. The Governor and the Legislature must understand that we cannot solve this problem by further reducing aid to local governments. Families across Minnesota are struggling, and they need to know that their leaders have the courage to navigate this crisis. We must seize this moment as an opportunity to make new investments in Minnesota’s future and build ourselves back to greatness.”





Comments (1)

  1. Submitted by Charley Underwood on 12/04/2008 - 11:12 pm.

    I shudder to think what Chris Coleman would end up doing as governor of Minnesota. As mayor, he supervised an armed siege of the city during the Republican National Convention. Just like Goldilocks, he found the level of police violence to be “just right.” He has made numerous public statement indicating that he finds it completely normal for public safety officers to be dressed in anonymous storm trooper outfits, sweep up hundreds of bystanders, pepper-spray and tase scores of innocents and draw lethal weapons on hundreds of citizens. With modernization like this, we could do with a little old fashioned human rights.

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