Governor Tim Pawlenty today called for reforming Minnesota’s budget process to shut off automatic spending increases.
Press release from the Governor’s office:
“State government spending on autopilot is ridiculous and irrational. It is out of control and needs to be fixed,” Governor Pawlenty said. “With revenues projected to increase 5 percent, it is absurd that state government is on track for a whopping 27 percent jump in spending. That’s why the next governor and legislature should reform this broken process by passing my Spending Accountability Amendment so Minnesotans will never face this problem again.”
Spending Accountability Amendment
In order to limit state government spending, ensure balanced budgets, and force lawmakers to prioritize limited resources, Governor Tim Pawlenty proposed an amendment to the Minnesota Constitution that would cap the state general fund budget at the level of revenue actually received during the previous budget period.
Under Governor Pawlenty’s proposal, Minnesotans would vote on the proposed Spending Accountability Amendment in an upcoming general election.
The proposed constitutional amendment question would read as follows:
Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to require that state government general fund expenditures be limited to the amount of actual general fund revenues received by the state in the previous two-year budget period?
The constitutional amendment language would include a provision allowing for additional expenditures to provide for the public peace, safety, or health in the event of a declared national security or peacetime emergency.
Had this amendment been enacted in 1960, general fund spending since then would have been reduced by over $22 billion, or about 7.5% – an average of more than $900 million per state budget period.
Under Governor Pawlenty’s proposal, revenues collected above the budgeted amount would be set aside and could only be used for one-time purposes such as increasing the state’s budget reserves, tax rebates, or one-time capital expenditures. The Governor is proposing to first build budget reserves to 5% of biennial general fund spending, as recommended by the state’s Council of Economic Advisors.