Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The 5% solution

A couple of years ago, my employer, Hewlett-Packard, cut everyone's salary 5% and stopped matching employee 401(k) contributions. Well, not everyone's salary was cut by an equal amount. Hourly worker wages were cut around 2% I believe, and management got a 10-15% cut. Nobody liked it, but our salaries were eventually restored this year (not retroactively), and we decided that a pay cut was better than a layoff. (Thousands of our co-workers were laid off.)

Governor Dayton and the Legislature are said to be about $1.6 billion apart between their budgets. That is less than 5% of the record $34 billion budget, much closer to Dayton's levels of funding than the GOP originally proposed and without the tax cuts and reforms that conservatives demanded in the last election. The State of Minnesota does not have a revenue problem, it has a spending problem. If new sources of revenue are found, new ways to spend the money will be found. Contrary to the fuzzy math of the unions and special interests, getting less of an increase than you asked for is not a "cut." Less of an increase is certainly better than a layoff, or a shutdown.

You can't always get what you want, and the Legislature has given the governor quite a lot of what he wanted. It's time for governor Dayton to sign the budget and get Minnesota, the only state in the union in government shutdown, back to work.

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