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Her Honor

Judy Nadler, senior fellow in government ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, looks at ethical dilemmas, scandals, and best practices in government.

The following postings have been filtered by category Budget. clear filter
  •  A Lesson In Cooperation And Creativity

    Tuesday, Jul. 5, 2011

    California has nothing on Minnesota when it comes to legislators at loggerheads over the state budget.

    The state shut down a variety of government services last week, and Governor Mark Dayton is now meeting with his colleagues to try to hammer out a deal to close a $5 billion gap in Minnesota’s two-year budget.

    The shutdown has had a significant impact on the day-to-day business conducted by government. For example, you can’t take your driver’s test, state parks have been closed, and some 20,000 workers have been furloughed. But as humorist and author Garrison Keillor points out in his “Prairie Home Companion” program, Minnesotans are hard-working and creative, and are not going to let the shutdown ruin their summer.

    I recently spent a few days visiting friends in the small city of Winona (population about 28,000). During my short stay I attended three free outdoor concerts, visited the county history museum, toured a refuge center for bald eagles, saw two outstanding plays staged by the Great River Shakespeare Company, enjoyed a performance at the Minnesota Beethoven Festival, and even attended a political rally. None of these events would have been possible without the vision and determination of a community that comes together for events as diverse as the Winona Steamboat Days and the Frozen River Film Festival.

    Seeing the sense of civic pride, community cooperation, and a “can-do” attitude was inspiring. There are a number of empty retail buildigs downtown, and the city has suffered the downturn in the economy. So while the underwriters of the events included a few of the local banks and businesses along with Winona State University, the majority of the sponsors and volunteers were individuals, couples, and families.

    There are many services we count on our government to provide, and it is my hope that Minnesota and all the states engaged in budget battles are able to find a fair and equitable compromise on their political differences.

     Perhaps they should spend a few days in their home districts, and take some of that local  “gumption” back to the statehouse.



  •  "No Gimmicks" Budget Vetoed in California

    Thursday, Jun. 16, 2011

    As the Rolling Stones say, “You can’t always get what you want.”

    That is certainly the theme in Sacramento and cities across California as the state budget passed both houses by the June 15 deadline. But nobody was happy with the document, and Governor Jerry Brown promptly signed a veto.

    Arguing that there would be no gimmicks in eliminating the state deficit, Brown said the document “ continues big deficits for years to come and adds billions of dollars of new debt. It also contains legally questionable maneuvers, costly borrowing, and unrealistic savings. We can—and must—do better.”

    The $26 billion deficit has created friction between the Democrats and Republicans, with Governor Brown trying to reason with both sides. In the end, he criticized Republicans for refusing an important part of his plan: to let the voters have a say in how the balance will be achieved.

    Brown wanted voters to decide on extending personal income and sales tax increases, a provision the Republicans would concede only if proposals such as a spending cap were included, along with reforms in both pension and regulatory programs.

    This is the first time in 25 years the California lawmakers have been able to meet their constitutional deadline, but it may have been rushed due to a proposition passed last November that said: no budget on time, no paycheck. The voters will undoubtedly be unhappy with one concession by the governor that allows legislators to continue to be paid. Previously, State Controller John Chiang said he would permanently withhold lawmakers' pay and per diem starting June 16 if they did not pass a balanced budget.

    So for now the Golden State will have to rely on another song from the Rolling Stones that laments, “I can’t get no satisfaction.”


    Photo by freedom to marryavailable under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial License.

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