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Better forecast still means living within government's means

Last week legislators received the February budget forecast. It indicates a revenue increase of $1.2 billion; this is in addition to the previous estimate of a 6 percent increase. This forecast will give legislators a better picture of how much revenue can be expected this biennium.

I believe that some of this $1.2 billion can be attributed to market stability from retaining the Bush tax cuts. Our balancing the budget without tax increases will add to this stability and encourage economic investment and growth. Minnesota families live within their means, and our state government must do the same.

In the last forecast, it was estimated that state revenues would increase from approximately $30 billion to $32 billion, or about a 6 percent increase. The $6.2 billion deficit that you keep hearing about is because expenditures are automatically set to increase about 28 percent.

I am confident that we can spend $32 billion in our state budget and use the $1.2 billion to build our state's reserves. This also allows us the opportunity to look at specific tax cuts that could further spur our economy.

By reducing the expenditures that are automatically set to increase, we can set Minnesota back on an economic path that is efficient and sustainable. Now is the time to make these important decisions.

We also passed alternative teacher licensure last week and it is headed to the gGovernor's desk. I believe it will be signed by the governor. I believe the purpose is to allow career professionals in the STEM areas, where some shortages exist, to enter the education field. They must still be hired by local school districts according to regular hiring practices that are designed to employ the best applicants. The "Teach for America" program is an example of this approach.

Dave Hancock, R-Bemidji, is a member of the Minnesota House.