Think you can balance the state budget? Give it a try

Launch the budget deficit calculator

Republicans insist we hold the line on taxes. So let’s say we rule out revenue increases as a solution to the state’s budget shortfall.

DFLers fight to defend care for the elderly, child protection and the like. Who wants to kick Granny out of the nursing home? So let’s shelter human services programs too.

Let’s also shield K-12 education. After all, the education of the next generation is our most urgent economic imperative.

Finally, let’s assume the state can’t default on its debts.

Here’s where we’re left: In order to balance the state’s general fund budget, we have to cut two-thirds of the money for everything else — for running prisons, supporting public universities, aiding military veterans, maintaining state parks, ensuring safe food and profitable farms, etc.

Now, let’s get real. Someone clearly has to compromise.

As officials in St. Paul stake out their positions for the budget showdown, you can do the same, using this MinnPost guide to the state’s budget puzzle.

Launch the budget deficit calculator

Where the money comes from

Source: Minnesota Department of Management and Budget

Where the money goes

Source: Minnesota Department of Management and Budget

You can also learn about all our free newsletter options.

Comments (63)

  1. Submitted by Patrick Steele on 02/09/2011 - 09:07 am.

    That was easy. What should we do with my $1.2bn surplus?

  2. Submitted by Jeff Klein on 02/09/2011 - 09:31 am.

    It’s striking how paltry the savings are from the gutting of programs that provide for those in need or educate our population, and how easy it is to make up the difference by taking a couple of thousand bucks from the pockets of those who make hundreds of thousands.

  3. Submitted by David Greene on 02/09/2011 - 09:49 am.

    Easy peasy. Select everything but higher alcohol and tobacco taxes under revenue and go with Dayton’s proposed income tax surcharge. Over $500k left over.

    This is really, really, really not hard from a numbers standpoint.

    It _is_ really, really, really hard from a dealing with people with fingers stuck in ears standpoint.

  4. Submitted by David Greene on 02/09/2011 - 09:52 am.

    Oops, make that $500m surplus.

    And if we cut all tax breaks listed (all of which benefit the wealthy the most) we get a $5b surplus, enough to build a Vikings stadium, Saints stadium, a few light rail lines and even give a bit back to the middle class.

  5. Submitted by Andrew Bornhoft on 02/09/2011 - 10:45 am.

    I agree that cutting small programs is at the top of so many debates. The cost so little money. I think this “game” also demonstrates the amount of money gained by increasing taxes a small amount. Call me a socialist, but I’m willing to pay money so others can have a livable quality of life.

  6. Submitted by John Armstrong on 02/09/2011 - 11:09 am.

    I “easily” created a surplus of $11.5 billion–I just said yes to every possible “revenue enhancement” and every possible “outlay reduction”.

    It is hard from dealing with people. Not from “fingers stuck in ears standpoint” but differences in how any given choice will affect different groups of people. (David, why not increase the alcohol and tobacco taxes, also? What’s wrong with raising the “sin taxes”?)

    The decisions are easy when it is just one person with their own values and no one else’s feelings and thoughts need to be taken into account. This is not something with an easy solution.

    The best compromises are when everyone ends up equally miserable.

  7. Submitted by Ron Gotzman on 02/09/2011 - 11:33 am.

    Is it true that if we would just freeze spending at current levels we would have a surplus?

    I know it is tough to freeze spending, especially when you have to “pay-off” the DFL special interests groups who gave you the campaign money.

  8. Submitted by Robert Langford on 02/09/2011 - 11:37 am.

    Once you assume that increasing taxes is a logical alternative to starving the poor and denying medical assistance to children, the choices become pretty obvious and not too hard. It seems to me that we can quite easily increase many taxes without doing serious harm to our economy and still provide fairness to our citizens. It is cutting education, medical services and basic support for our citizens in need that will bring down this state.

  9. Submitted by Michael Dahl on 02/09/2011 - 11:40 am.

    I just balanced the state budget. It wasn’t easy. I did a couple things I wouldn’t prefer. But I did it in a way that was based on progressive decisions — trying to protect lowest income households as much as I could.

    I was able to eliminate half the deficit just be eliminating the mortgage interest deduction on the state level and placing another tax bracket for the highest income earners who do not currently contribute their fair share in taxes.

  10. Submitted by Jeremy Powers on 02/09/2011 - 11:46 am.

    I don’t think this is easy, but by returning taxes to the 1998 levels, cutting some things and increasing taxes on the wealthy, it can be done.

  11. Submitted by Bruce Bednarek on 02/09/2011 - 11:49 am.

    First, assuming that the “pork barrel” is still in existence, start with basic budgeting principles, what do we actually need to spend and how do we obtain the funds to spend. Before trying to identify what tax to increase or what service to cut, have each contributor to the budget review their submissions and categorize each item, for example: 1) will the expenditure provide a direct benefit to the state population as a whole, 2) will it benefit only a segment of the population (such as expanding hiking or bike trails), 3) will it have a potential to improve overall quality of life, 4) do the results expenditure have durability, or will the impact fade quickly 5) will it provide a service or function that would be nice to have but really isn’t functionally necessary 6) it is being requested as a result of being a “pet project” of the person submitting it. Obviously these challenges would have to be reworked and redefined by someone who is more in tune with the actual line item budget.

    Second, have the list reviewed by a non-partisan group of retired auditors, accountants and other professionals who do not have a political or geographical “axe to grind” and allow them to challenge questionable requested expenditures with the requestor/submittor having to justify the basis for the request. This process would be public in nature so the state population would have an opportunity to see and understand what their elected representatives are really doing.

    Third, once the spend list is accepted, THEN start to determine how to fund it.

    Finally, since it appears to be evident that the elected politicians cannot play together nicely and work as a functioning team towards a focused goal, think outside of the box. Minnesota is a state with a bounty of resources that includes a wealth of talent in the form of retirees. If this resource pool could be tapped to contribute on a voluntary basis to this review process it would truly offer an opportunity for the “untainted” voice of the “people” to participate in how their dollars and future will be handled and guided.

    Something has to change otherwise we will be hearing the same posturing that is generated on a Party basis without seeing any positive headway towards accomplishing the end goal.

  12. Submitted by Ron Gotzman on 02/09/2011 - 11:53 am.

    Is it true that if we would just freeze spending at current levels we would have a surplus?

    I know it is tough to freeze spending, especially when you have to “pay-off” the DFL special interests groups who gave the campaign money.

  13. Submitted by Jesse Gaibor on 02/09/2011 - 12:18 pm.

    Spending freeze to 2008 or 2009 levels. I see Ron’s question above- is it true that there would be a surplus? Every budget takes the hit and makes do like families are across the state. STOP SPENDING MONEY WE DO NOT HAVE.
    I agree that public safety needs as much money as is prudent, but all other areas should reduce spending.

    $150k for a couple is NOT rich!

  14. Submitted by bonnie harris on 02/09/2011 - 12:19 pm.

    Maybe they could start by looking at the extraordinary benefits packages state workers receive. For example, while taking two days of me and my bookkeeper’s time auditing for non-existing online sales tax, the auditors enjoyed telling me how great their health insurance is. It pays 100% for acupuncture and massages among other things. They were getting married as soon as possible so their spouses could also enjoy these benefits.

    I think there’s quite a bit of that in the state budget, but instead let’s cut funding for schools. Just sayin.

  15. Submitted by Jeff Klein on 02/09/2011 - 12:21 pm.

    “What’s wrong with raising the “sin taxes”?”

    They’re regressive and already highly taxed.

  16. Submitted by Virginia Martin on 02/09/2011 - 12:30 pm.

    In this budget year, I chose a number of pie-in-the sky actions. But they are good ones and should be considered.
    Most of my choices were to raise taxes: put a sales tax on some services, enact a 10% surcharge, increase taxes on both alcoholic beverages and tobacco, return taxes to 1988 levels, increase taxes on high income earners (10.5%), eliminate JOBZ program (it doesn’t work), and almost no cuts or elimination of local government aid, medical assistance.
    I ended up with a surplus that would harm very few if any people. But it’s too rational for today’s political climate.

  17. Submitted by Carol Flynn on 02/09/2011 - 12:41 pm.

    It sure was easy to end up with a surplus using my home computer. Somehow it was really difficult while on the Senate Tax Committee in the 90s.

  18. Submitted by David Greene on 02/09/2011 - 01:04 pm.

    Jesse,

    $150,000 in a household is higher than 94% of households in the U.S. It absolutely, certainly, without question IS rich!

  19. Submitted by Arito Moerair on 02/09/2011 - 01:16 pm.

    @David Greene

    Where does $150k rank in Minnesota?

  20. Submitted by Dimitri Drekonja on 02/09/2011 - 01:18 pm.

    150,000 for a couple may not be rich (it’s close to our family income), but is is better off than the great majority of Minnesotans. I am certainly willing to pay a greater share than a family making, say, 60,000 (both in absolute amounts and percentage), and I would hope that those making 250,000, or 500,000 (I think we can all agree, we’re into rich territory here), felt the same way.

  21. Submitted by Jesse Gaibor on 02/09/2011 - 01:36 pm.

    I think $150k is top 10% in MN. Ok, so inherently we we pay more than those earning less. I firmly believe Minnesota has a spending problem first and foremost.
    I like Bruce’s idea of auditing the state budget top to bottom.

  22. Submitted by Lon Kelley on 02/09/2011 - 02:58 pm.

    Based on reading here: http://taxes.state.mn.us/legal_policy/Documents/other_supporting_content_2009_tax_incidence_study_links.pdf

    I’m not sure if this would actually CLOSE the gap, but why don’t we abolish the sales tax, and increase all the individual income tax rate brackets by 3%?

    Sales tax is regressive, meaning families that earn less, spend more of their income. So, a poorer family spends most of their income, making almost the entire sales tax applicable to their income. Conversely, wealthier groups spend less of their income, so are subject to a functionally smaller fraction of the sales tax.

    Looking at the “Effective Tax Rates” (table 3-3), maybe an increase of 2.2% of income tax rates would be a better plan.

    Shoot, someone beat me to it. http://withagrain.blogspot.com/2010/04/think-about-reasons-not-numbers.html

  23. Submitted by Andrew Richner on 02/09/2011 - 03:44 pm.

    This illustrates pretty well the reality of the state budget proposals — all of the cuts combined are about equal to either returning to the 1998 tax levels or adding the 10.95% tax bracket in terms of their effect on balancing the budget, they cut the deficit down to between three and four billion dollars. This leaves LGA, sales tax, and ending tax breaks floating in the mix. Neither just cutting LGA or just adding sales taxes will plug the hole, but just ending the tax breaks will, especially the employer contribution break.

    It’s important to note that even in the politically unlikely scenario in which we combine the income tax increases with the cuts, we still won’t get out of the hole. We can’t pull it off without touching LGA, raising some sales taxes, or ending some tax breaks.

    Personally, I view additional cuts to government services to be more harmful than helpful, especially since, as other comments have pointed out, each cut is to a pretty small program when compared to the deficit. While I’d like to see a more fair income tax arrangement, I recognize that it doesn’t go the whole way to balance the budget, so, I would support ending the tax breaks and using that money to reform inefficiencies and save more money in the long run.

  24. Submitted by David Greene on 02/09/2011 - 04:58 pm.

    @David

    There’s some data from Minnesota here:

    http://factfinder.census.gov/servlet/STTable?_bm=y&-qr_name=ACS_2009_5YR_G00_S1901&-geo_id=04000US27&-context=st&-ds_name=ACS_2009_5YR_G00_&-tree_id=5309&-_lang=en&-format=&-CONTEXT=st

    Looks like a household making $150k or more earns more than 92% of all Minnesota households.

    I still say that’s rich. Extremely wealthy, even.

    @Dimitri

    No one wants to think they’re rich. But if you’re raking in $150k to your household, you are! The facts don’t lie, though they may be inconvenient.

  25. Anonymous Submitted by Anonymous on 02/09/2011 - 07:15 pm.

    I am not opposed to cuts in government, but cuts should be the end result after a comprehensive audit. Would be curious to see how much savings we could get right off the bat on duplicate/redundant processes and administrative bloat before even beginning to dive into the political debates of should govt provide “service X” to the public.

    Also I think to add a touch more realism to this game, when I check marked the 10.95% bracket someone like Tony Sutton should have appeared in a pop-up window and started calling me a job killer and how out of touch I am with hard-working Minnesotans.

  26. Submitted by Rosemary Rocco on 02/09/2011 - 07:18 pm.

    I balanced the budget with a combination of spending cuts, elimination of tax breaks and raising some revenue. Great exercise-thanks for doing this.

  27. Submitted by NIcole Masika on 02/09/2011 - 08:24 pm.

    @bonnie, I am a public employee and I sure can’t get a massage covered 100% . I could use one after getting stressed out trying to do the extra work cause by the hiring pause at the U. Your anecdote smells very suspicious to me

  28. Submitted by craig furguson on 02/09/2011 - 09:40 pm.

    I was suprised that we would only reduce the deficit by $60 million by reducing the state workforce by 15 percent. Most of my balancing came by not paying back the cost shift to schools and taxing families earning over $150k (I’m close to that). The extending sales tax to clothing and services didn’t hurt either. Revamping school transportation, pooling teacher health insurance and Create health-care networks and insurance exchanges were no brainers. The sin taxes don’t both me, I have like two good six packs and 3 cigars a year. I even threw a little honey ($100 million)for business. Minneapolis has been pretty irresponsible with their money, but I don’t think that we should cut them off state aid. That would kill police and fire and have a negative effect on the business center of the state.

  29. Submitted by Mike Downing on 02/09/2011 - 11:15 pm.

    It was FAR too easy to balance the budget with no tax increases. In fact, I had a $626,900,000 SURPLUS! MN clearly has a spending problem!

  30. Submitted by Tom Trisko on 02/09/2011 - 11:44 pm.

    After all the news stories about how the legislature and governors have not been able to balance the budget for 8 years, I expected this to be both morally and arithmetically difficult. Surprise! This was nearly a no-brainer. I had a 3 billion surplus without even using all the potential tax increases or cutting LGA or school aids or cutting property tax and other deductions/rebates. Then I went back and reduced some of my original tax hikes and still had a $600 million surplus for any contingency that might come up.

    The one moral challenge was converting the Medicaid system to an insurance subsidy because there weren’t enough details about how it would work and $6,000 is not enough for people to buy both health, dental, and long term care insurance. However, the dollars are so big and the need to reign in health costs so important for the long run that the proposal is certainly worth a lot more study.

    MinnPost should add up the “votes” for each option and report the results. Thanks for letting us see and work with the real numbers without the interest groups’ and politicians’ smoke and mirrors. There are enough options here that it is very possible to come with a budget that spreads the pain and forces all of us to be creative to do more with less.

  31. Submitted by Lynn VanDervort on 02/09/2011 - 11:54 pm.

    I came up with a positive number — but what I find most fascinating about this entire thread is: How many of our elected officials will have the courage to ‘do what is right’ as opposed to ‘do what is politically expected or expedient’. Doing the right thing will mean getting beyond the politics — and DOING the fiscally responsible move. The idea that the answer lies in either extreme is ridiculous…

  32. Submitted by Kris Broberg on 02/10/2011 - 12:29 am.

    Your little demonstration was not very impressive as it did not leave an option for solving it with cuts only. There is more to cut than you gave options to cut.

    Do you really call this high quality journalism?

  33. Submitted by craig furguson on 02/10/2011 - 06:31 am.

    For the fun of it, I tried all cuts. Still $700 mill – $1 billion short, depending on if you give the tax breaks to business or not.

  34. Submitted by Mary Jo Schifsky on 02/10/2011 - 07:52 am.

    Try again.
    Using a combination of revenue increases, including increased taxes on alcohol and tobacco, returning income tax rates to 1998 levels and a corporate throwback tax; increased taxes on married couples with income over $250,000; cut spending using health-care networks, health care networks and insurance exchanges, revamped school transportation, pooling health insurance purchasing, coordinating state purchasing and freezing state employees pay; reduce medical assistance costs by replacing health care services with insurance subsidies; cut business taxes by cutting the corporate income tax, I balance the budget and even had a surplus.
    Will you be compiling the results of the public completing this survey? I’d be very interested in seeing how MinnPost readers view the budget. Thanks.

  35. Submitted by Joanne Kuzelka on 02/11/2011 - 08:27 am.

    I created a surplus of + 1 billion by:
    rolling up my sleeves and getting a second job, (raising taxes),
    and tightening my belt, (cutting spending).
    No cuts to cities, no education cuts, no healthcare cuts.
    Wonderful exercise…should be mandatory for our employees,
    (our elected officials), with their choices published, of course.

  36. Submitted by Michael Zalar on 02/12/2011 - 04:32 am.

    I think the 10% surcharge to be a good idea, as it is a temporary tax, and the revenue deficits are temporary as well – as the economy recovers, the surcharge can go down, until we are, say at an employment level equivalent to 2007.

  37. Submitted by Dave Eischens on 02/12/2011 - 11:50 am.

    4.1 billion surplus. Most decisions made based on a single principle: People before Profits.

  38. Submitted by Lora Jones on 02/17/2011 - 01:01 pm.

    The ONLY thing that would allow any of you “Minnesota has a spending problem” taxophobes to balance the budget with cuts only is the Taxpayer’s Leage 6,000 per person insurance “voucher” program. That’s not going to even cover the cost of health insurance for a year. And if you think that someone making $10,000 or $15,000 can pony up the other $4,000 it will take — you’re dreaming.

    I too didn’t touch LGA, Higher Ed or K-12. I let the snow birds be, but returned us to the sane taxation of 1999 (any of you who think that’s a job killing level of taxes need only look at the job creation performance pre and post. King Tim presided over the lowest (and biggest cuts in) taxes in generations AND the lowest levels of job creation so spare me that lie, please) and put in the surtax and sales tax on clothing. It’s time the Japanese tourists and other MOM shoppers support the cause!

  39. Submitted by Frank Neubecker on 02/17/2011 - 01:38 pm.

    Would be nice to have a button that reports on the choices you made for easy sharing.

    I got a small surplus by raising taxes, making government more effective and even cut some corporate taxes to bring in the jobs (Not that taxes are stopping job growth)

    Seems simple easy choices that don’t dump the problem on the same people that have been dumped on for the last 8 years.

    When was the last time high earners were asked to sacrifice something in this state?

  40. Submitted by Molly MacGregor on 02/17/2011 - 08:44 pm.

    I easily balanced the budget by accepting most of the revenues – (not tobacco but alcohol) including a few that would hurt me, losing the mortgage deduction and taking health plans. I knew that state government was a small percentage overall, was surprised to see it was 1.7% of expenditures…good tool, set up very nicely,too, so it was easy to use and to learn from

  41. Submitted by Aaron Tovo on 02/17/2011 - 10:45 pm.

    Returning to 1998 tax levels makes a lot of sense. I remember the 90s were pretty good. The economy was booming so revenues were up an it was possible to cut taxes. Now that the economy has tanked we need that revenue back.

    Raising taxes on the richest 5% does not create any significant economic harm and they will hardly notice (I doubt they noticed the extra money they got from those tax cuts either). In fact, maybe we should increase taxes to above 1998 levels to compensate from the cutbacks we’ve had to endure over the last few years.

  42. Submitted by Karen Sandness on 02/18/2011 - 09:59 pm.

    I easily created a $1.14 billion surplus (which should go into a rainy day fund) with these measures:

    Enact a 10% income tax surcharge
    Return tax rates to 1998 levels
    Adopt a corporate throwback rule
    Extra tap on top earners for three years
    Tax mansions
    Close corporate loopholes
    Create a new 10.95% tax bracket for married couples with income over $150,000
    Eliminate the JOBZ program
    Create health care networks and insurance exchanges
    Revamp school transportation
    Coordinate insurance purchasing for school districts
    Coordinate state purchasing
    Cut spending for prisons (includes alternatives for non-violent offenders)

    Note that I didn’t have to harm the poor, the elderly, the disabled, the sick, or financially strapped homeowners to do so.

    It’s not so hard. You just have to be not afraid to offend the fat cats.

  43. Submitted by Arthur Swenson on 02/22/2011 - 12:02 pm.

    According to your calculator, one of the single most effective tools to close the budget gap would be to return to 1998 tax levels. By doing that, adding the 4th tax bracket (for those who can best figure ways to avoid it) and adding a surcharge for EVERYONE, it is possible to close the gap. To me, this is “proof-positive” that we do, in fact have a revenue problem, not a spending problem. If we had left the tax rates at their old levels, we could now meet the needs of our schools, nursing homes, and most vulnerable citizens, rather than wring our hands about which services should be the next to go.

  44. Submitted by Everett Flynn on 03/01/2011 - 03:26 pm.

    Absolutely fascinating….. both the exercise in balancing the budget through my own choices, and the comments from people scattered across the political spectrum. Absolutely fascinating.

  45. Submitted by Ross Reishus on 03/05/2011 - 02:18 pm.

    So, that was easy.

    A shift in thinking is needed on the conservative political side of things.

    The current system, i.e., the ways the laws are currently written….benefits what class of earners the most? Answer- the wealthy, otherwise, they would not be wealthy. In other words, modifications of the current system are in order in order to re-establish balance. In order to do so, the first step is to go back to the 1998 tax brackets. Contrary to what the GOP would have us think, most of this deficit started with a severe reduction in revenue. Can’t call it a spending issue when you are turning down revenue that was already in place. Of course, 1998 was a pretty flush time in MN with Gov. Ventura giving us tax refunds 3 years in a row. I have to believe that even the staunchest conservative understands we can’t go down that road again. Start with 1998, and make cuts on the rich (mansion taxes, et al), not the poor and middle class. Keeping in mind, that the current system already favors the rich, so its not like they’re going to suffer as much as the rest of us will if they are not a large part of the solution.

  46. Submitted by David Koller on 03/05/2011 - 02:28 pm.

    I was fairly easy but only because I was clicking boxes by myself. I ended up with a surplus of 5.65 million by using a combination of raising revenue, eliminating some tax breaks, and cutting some spending.

    Regarding the discussion about income of 150k – that is TAXABLE income of 150k or higher which is quite different and reflects a higher gross income.

    I do think this is a great exercise.

  47. Submitted by Jonathan Dregni on 03/12/2011 - 03:43 pm.

    I was able to balance, and extend the corporate tax and commercial property breaks at the bottom. Maybe you made it too easy!

    Also saw nothing about legalizing marijuana, and enhanced release of non-violent marijuana offenders from detention. Just something about reducing $$ to prisons, which would probably just make them worse, so I did not choose that.

  48. Submitted by Richard Walker on 03/17/2011 - 03:00 pm.

    I’ve lived in Minnesota all of my life and took the “Balance the Budget” challenge. The result was a substantial surplus. I created no new taxes, nor did I extend or increase any existing taxes. I simply curtailed spending. We can not only easily balance our budget, but reduce taxes.

  49. Submitted by Chelle Stoner on 03/26/2011 - 09:07 am.

    Seems to me that we need a program that is charged with managing the expectations of Minnesotans. Determine what are reasonable expectations of what our government can/should provide. I also believe that Minnesotans are all in this together. ALL of us. We need to have a comprehensive plan, sell it, and feel like we all have skin in the game.
    It is just a big version of the folktale – Stone Soup. Lower expectations, everyone contribute, everyone gets something to eat. It needs to be a simultaneous effort – that way there is more trust. We are missing trust in each other and in our elected officials and in the system. Its importance cannot be underestimated.

    A public relations campaign might be necessary.

    Loved the budget balancing exercise. I was able to do it. Not fun tho.

  50. Submitted by Mary Gallagher on 04/07/2011 - 06:00 pm.

    I believe in preserving Minnesota’s traditional focus on the common good and excellence in providing for all our citizens — from good public schools and access to health care for kids to dignified options and care for seniors, not just warehousing them. Cutting programs for the most vulnerable undermines the welfare of those already struggling the most, and tax cuts alone aren’t sufficient to resolve the current crisis. We need to bring in more revenue, and I have no problem asking those who have have more than enough and have seen their share of taxes decrease over the past several years pay more. It’s a matter of taking care of basic needs and not worrying that a millionaire may “want” to put away more for retirement. They’re not going to starve or go without medical care.

    I also think putting a tax on pop (soda) falls into the taxing a “want” v. a “need” line of thinking and would be like a sin tax in that it’s not good for us, so I’d support a tax on it.

  51. Submitted by Michelle Anderson on 04/22/2011 - 04:48 pm.

    Here is my idea . . . maybe if your getting MN Care and the state is paying for your daycare and your on WIC (and able to get all these programs because you lie about income, residence, whatever) maybe you should not get a refund check from the state or fed. at the end of the year. If you don’t have a social security number you should not be entitled to programs provided by taxpayers, as you are not contributing. (I am for immigration as that is what built this country but we are not a country in its early stages anymore.) I do understand many of the programs are needed and help many people every year but it seems like the honest citizens that contribute and could really use the help once or twice in their lives don’t qualify. Perhaps if there was not additional income offered for popping out babies on welfare they would stop having so many. They should also have to PASS a monthly drug test in order to receive welfare, as many people have to pass drug testing to get a job. Can you imagine what welfare would be down to?

  52. Submitted by Sally Hoover on 04/25/2011 - 04:48 pm.

    Took the test and it wasn’t a big deal. Cuts have been made for the last 6 years and we ended up with a ^ billion deficit. This is what I chose to do and ended up with $270,600,000 surplus:

    1. Income tax returned to 1998 levels

    2. corporate “throwback” rule adopted

    3. Snowbird loophole closed

    4. 3% income tax (3 years) on those making over $500,000

    5. Tax mansions

    6. Close corporate loop hole

    7. 10.95% income tax rate adopted for those making $150, 000

    8. Eliminate JOBZ program

  53. Submitted by Jamie Henderson on 04/30/2011 - 05:22 pm.

    // “Regarding the discussion about income of 150k – that is TAXABLE income of 150k or higher which is quite different and reflects a HIGHER GROSS INCOME.”// (latter emphasis mine)

    I wish the news media would quit reporting this tax-raising proposal in this way. The actual gross income needed for a TAXABLE income of $150k is somewhere between $170,000 and $180,000, if I remember correctly. And while $150k is indeed pretty rich, $170k is even richer. People who earn that much can afford a couple hundred more dollars in taxes, especially if they don’t want our state’s standard of living to fall. And that’s what we’re talking about: a couple hundred bucks.

    Also, they’re myths propagated by Republicans that higher taxes on the wealthy make for less job creation and/or wealthy people moving out of the state (NPR’s Morning Edition did a story on this yesterday). They can easily afford to pay their FAIR SHARE of taxes without hurting our job-creation environment. Besides, it’s long past time we stop paying for the wealthy to get welfare benefits in the form of lower taxes and tax loopholes.

    I had about a $4.5 billion surplus with a combination of mostly revenue increases and some cuts realized by prospective greater cost efficiencies.

  54. Submitted by David Finke on 05/08/2011 - 10:29 am.

    Surplus: $1,154,600,000!
    I guess it’s time to improve quality of life for the citizens of MN.

  55. Submitted by Glenn Wilson on 05/17/2011 - 07:55 pm.

    First of all this is not a short fall. This was an increase in spending. Why not include all things that impact the budget. I would sell State lands, many of which there is no money to maintain. Eliminate funding for the further purchase of land. Cut mass transit including light rail discontinue converting good office space to green office space at a enormous cost to save a very little. K-12? For starters schools should not be campuses. The costs for heating and cooling go way up as do building costs, maintenance and lost property tax due to the large amounts of land consumed. They should not have marble floors (Prior Lake) Schools should not be buying new text books every semester, nor installing NFL quality football fields.
    Stop remodeling state offices at hundreds of thousands of dollars each a new Dept Head moves in. Sometimes that cost is per office. downsize the enormous fleet of State Vehicles. Not buy the Electric Vehicles that just says to tax payers “cost is no object” were going green. Cost is the problem. Higher Ed? Well sending more than generous amounts of cash seems little benefit to students as tuition is thru the roof. I would have a very difficult time not cutting all funding. Requiring, they use the multi billions in holdings they all ready have before going to the public for more.
    Close corporate loop holes? Sure, then apply a cross the board low tax to attract corporations. Just like the snow bird they will gladly pay tax some where that requires less. Dayton proposes taxing the top 2% of earners more. Take all their money and it will not close the gap. That would never cross my mind.
    I would start with these and a few others before even looking at your list. You can tax all you like but until the State can show any sort of fiscal discipline like the tax payers who it is designed to work for. There will never be enough money. Proof you may ask? If a tax increase solved the problem even once this page would not exist.

  56. Submitted by don carter on 05/19/2011 - 05:49 pm.

    I closed it and had $2 Billion surplus…and I know there was many missing government bloated boondoggle programs that were not on the list. Ethanol, Welfare, unions, etc, etc.

  57. Submitted by don carter on 05/19/2011 - 06:06 pm.

    I went back and redid my figures…it was no taxes and cutting spending plus I went back to 1998 taxes….BALANCED – my SURPLUS $4,134,000,000….that’s BILLION There are many sections that are not on this list that need to be addressed where bigger savings could be had. we need to go back to a budget closer to $ 21-24 billion.

  58. Submitted by Alex Danzberger on 05/23/2011 - 10:45 pm.

    Well, that was easy. Surplus of $1.5Billion. Sin taxes, replace paid health care programs with insurance subsidies to program participants and a few tucks here and there. No property tax increase. No cuts in major programs. The BOZOs in St Paul should all go home and let the people decide.

  59. Submitted by Christopher Bell on 06/04/2011 - 03:48 pm.

    Doing this at home alone and with no one else to satisfy, it was easy both to balance the budget and come up with a $5 b surplus. I approved of the income and sales tax increases and a few of the reforms which didn’t cut needed programs. I would use the surplus to invest in needed infrastructure, e.g., extend broadband internet service throughout the state, repair and maintain roads and bridges, spend more money on scientific R&D to create jobs for the future and improve energy saving/green systems in private and public sectors.

  60. Submitted by Virginia Simson on 06/25/2011 - 08:27 pm.

    You never once mentioned the “Robin Hood” tax – financial transactions tax nor the establishment of a State bank which would keep our money in our State.

    You don’t mention make sure tax dodgers PAY UP. And plenty of rich corporations using MN resources are paying NOTHING at all.

    You don’t mention many progressive and cost saving programs such as self advocacy paraprofessionals which research shows are far more effective, but still controversial.

    True tax fairness has no chance at all in the current mythology flogged by the GOP and ALEC. You don’t stimulate job creation by reducing jobs! That takes AWAY REVENUE and creates even MORE social services spending.

  61. Submitted by Susan Matlon on 07/08/2011 - 05:11 pm.

    Seemed easy enough to create a surplus. Just used common sense, accurate historical facts, and conservative fiscal foresight. Stop the political bickering and get back to work!!!

  62. Submitted by David Steele on 07/28/2011 - 11:49 am.

    Where is the option to axe the light rail project…thats a billion right there!!

  63. Submitted by Jeffrey McIntyre on 01/31/2016 - 07:56 am.

    Balanced Budget

    I applied the “Scott Walker” rule, lower taxes, borrow more money, push your bond payments from one fiscal year into the next. Bingo…budget is balanced.

Leave a Reply