Published on Wednesday, 30 November -0001 00:00
This campaign season, some citizens are saying that state government has increased spending at the rate of 10 percent per year between 1960 and 2000. This is true, but it is also misleading.
A more accurate measure of the rate of government growth is to combine local government spending (school district, county, township, and city government) and state government spending together, and then factor in inflation and population growth. (In 1960, Minnesota had a population of 3.4 million, and in 2000, Minnesota had a population of 4.9 million). Using this method, government grew at a real rate of 2 percent per year, not 10 percent.
A 2 percent real growth in government spending is still significant and is too high in today's environment. Future political leaders must work to improve efficiency and eliminate lower-priority spending.
However, it is also important to acknowledge that we are asking government to do much more today than we did in 1960: environmental protection; long-term care of the disabled and elderly (Medicaid started in 1965); special education for an increasing population of children with disabilities; expanded, improved and safer highways; pay equity for women; increased enrollment and expanded curriculum in primary, secondary, and higher education; increased cost of health care; expanded criminal law and increased penalties resulting in an expansion of law enforcement personnel; judicial branch expansion (Court of Appeals was established by constitutional amendment in 1982); increased prison population; and substantial increases in spending on quality of life issues, such as, sports, parks, theaters, museums, historical site development, wildlife management, fish stocking, and boat landings on lakes and rivers.
The role of government has undoubtedly expanded in the last 50 years, although not to the degree that some are claiming. Considering its expansion and our current budget issues, it is more important than ever to re-examine the roles of government to ensure it is effectively and efficiently serving the people of Minnesota.
Constituents wishing to find out more information, or contact Senator Dille, at the capitol can do so by calling (651) 296Ð4131, by e-mailing him at
, or by sending mail to his senate office at 103 State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55155.