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Pioneer Editorial: Oct. 1 -- and no new fed budget

Today starts a new federal budget year and Congress failed to do the principle job for which we elect our representatives and senators, that of framing an annual budget to run the government.

Congress sent to President Barack Obama late Wednesday night a continuing resolution, or a stopgap measure to run government at current levels for another month. And, in doing so, it included a 6 percent increase in Congress' budget for the new fiscal year. But don't be too quick to condemn Congress as passing that budget now prevents any amendments had it been left out. But doing so sends a bad message.

"This is the worst display that I have ever seen in my years of service in the Congress," said Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla. "We have the audacity to take care of us before we take care of the rest of America."

Still, the new fiscal year starts today with only that one single bill approved, leaving 11 remaining spending bills for agency budgets.

Such a situation can almost be understood with a split Congress and White House, but this year the Democrats control both chambers of Congress and the White House. President Obama's proposed budget was submitted late last winter, plenty of time to figure out how to fund government.

It is a reoccurring problem no matter what party controls Congress or the White House, and a better way must be found,

Minnesota must provide a balanced budget each year, forcing legislators to do so by July 1 every other year or the government is shut down. That system, too, hasn't worked well as we've had a government shutdown. And this year, we had a budget unilaterally imposed by the governor.

Part of the problem is the ability to add earmarks to nearly every bill, causing them to plug up the system in controversy. U.S. Rep. Jim Oberstar, DFl-8th District, complained Wednesday that the Senate was attempting to add earmarks to a bill to continue the federal transportation spending bill to the end of the year, something which would not have been reconciled with the House's pay-as-you-go rules.

"Failure to pass free-standing extension legislation will force states to operate under the one-month continuing appropriations resolution, which will provide states almost $1 billion less in highway infrastructure funding than the amount provided under the first month of the House bill's investment levels. This is unacceptable and irresponsible at a time when the nation is beginning to recover from the worst economic recession since the 1930s," Oberstar said Wednesday.

Serious budget reform is needed. Foremost, we want our lawmakers to do the job we elected them to do -- on time.