The summer of 2012, I was asked how I thought the Minnesota state budget should be constructed. I said “The first thing to do was to determine what the state was responsible for and go to a zero-based program budget system where we have people focus on each line item within their own programs and hold them accountable for getting those line items right. If the line items are right and the program budgets are right when we put them together the whole budget will be right and predictable.”
Rep. Steve Drazkowski commented to the people present that it is liberal ideas like this that have created the financial mess we are in — or something to that effect.
I’m not sure anyone can identify an organization with a well-articulated line item program budget that is monitored that creates a financial mess unless the budget managers decided to cause a mess. Big budget deficits have occurred when budgets were expanded for programs the people in power favored, which also favored their donors, with the idea that they would cut programs they don’t favor later on.
I have looked at a lot of school district budgets over the years because that is the values clarification part of a school district’s philosophy. The budget articulates the philosophy of a school district more clearly than the mission statement. Whenever a school district was in a financial mess it was because they did not have a well-articulated program-based line-item budget.
Minnesota is often identified as a state that is unfriendly to taxpayers. Minnesota is also identified as one of the healthiest states in the nation with some of the best schools in the nation and is also high on the list of innovative states — but people don’t connect taxes with healthy, well educated, innovative people.
The founding fathers’ concept of freedom of speech guarantees the right of news organizations like Fox News and other media outlets to put out intentionally false information and call it news — though it is not clear that was the founding fathers’ intent.
In 1997 an appellate court in Florida ruled that the FCC’s policy against the intentional falsification of the news — which the FCC has called its “news distortion policy” — does not qualify as the required “law, rule, or regulation” under section 448.102. The court’s decision protected Fox News and other media outlets reporting false information about Monsanto and RBGH as legitimate news stories. We have no right to expect that news, especially politically motivated news, will be true or accurate.
Money isn’t the only factor in an election, even though our nation has moved away from the idea of one man, one vote, to the idea that money is speech and the Constitution guarantees free speech. However, we have the Emancipation Proclamation and the 13th Amendment to the Constitution that seem to indicate people can’t own people and yet we have a Supreme Court that says corporations are people with all the rights of people — even though corporations seem to be owned . . . by people, and these people are able to put as much money (speech) into political campaigns as they want. Many shareholders of corporations are not U.S. citizens and some shareholders are foreign governments.
Seven heirs to the Wal-Mart fortune have more wealth than 40 percent of the U.S. population combined. I don’t know how politically active the Wal-Mart heirs are, but there are several people whose wealth and political motivation gives them more political say than substantial portions of the U.S. population. So we live in a country where some people can put tens of millions of dollars into political campaigns without affecting their lifestyle one bit, while other people have to eliminate basic needs to donate a hundred dollars.
Some religious leaders object to the Affordable Care Act because they believe we are better off executing 48,000 Americans each year through withholding health care than we will be if we allow low income people the same access to birth control as higher income people. These religious leaders seem to believe higher income people have their children spaced at three-year intervals or only have one or two children because they are celibate for most of their married life.
The Congressional Budget Office reported that the ACA would reduce full time equivalent hours worked by 1.5 percent to 2 percent from 2017 to 2024. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor is reported to have said the CBO report indicates “millions of hardworking Americans will lose their jobs” and John Boehner has characterized the CBO report as confirming the ACA is “destroying 800,000 American jobs” — even though what is predicted by the CBO is that people will stop working two or three minimum wage jobs.
By the way, Republican operatives who reviewed the records of the Lewiston-Altura School District for the 12 years I served as superintendent know that record shows that actual revenues and expenditures were within one-tenth of a percent of the projected budget most of those 12 years and that facilities, student achievement and teacher competence improved every year.
If the Republican operatives had inspected state records they would have found that Lewiston-Altura had, and still does have, one of the lowest administrative costs per student, in Minnesota.