It's over; who won?

By Chuck Kajer

The 2010 legislative session ended this week with a budget bill that, in the end, everyone could agree on. The legislators and the governor found some common ground that allowed them to balance the budget in the short term.

Unfortunately, one thing that everyone seems to agree on is that the state budget that passed does not fix any problems. Instead, it pushes the problem down the road, for another governor and a different legislature to deal with. Democratic legislators, knowing that they could not override a veto by the governor, ended up giving him much of what he wanted in terms of budget cuts,

So, who are the winners? The politicians - Gov. Pawlenty and the legislators. They solved the immediate problem and those who are seeking reelection can go back to their constituents and say they did the job without having to go into an extended special session. (This year's short special session doesn't really count, since they never really left the building.) The governor also gets to point out that he didn't allow the legislature to raise taxes, which will further his conservative credentials as he explores the national political scene.

The losers? - schools, who saw the funding shift forced on them once again, further delaying payments from the state and causing cash flow problems for financially strapped districts. Cities also lose out on more local government aid - approximately $150,000 in New Prague - which will likely translate into either higher property taxes or cuts in services - possibly a combination of both. And next year's elected officials who have to deal with the budget all over again.

It will be interesting to see how the voters react this November.

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