Report: People unhappy with state government
Minnesotans aren't getting the state government they want, according to a Bush Foundation report released today.
The report, based on results from a statewide poll and three citizens forums, found that 57 percent want government to balance its budget with a blend of spending cuts and tax increases.
Two-thirds of citizens polled rejected one-time borrowing, as used by the Legislature to balance the budget in this year's special session. Eighty-six percent said their voice as an average citizen was lost in this year's budget debate.
"What citizens want is clear from this research," said Peter Hutchinson, president of the Bush Foundation, in a written statement. "(They) want to see public officials move away from divisive ideological budget battles to thoughtfully deal with the state's long-term, structural budget challenges."
The 2011 government shutdown marked the third time since 2005 that the regular legislative session ended in a stalemate, rather than a negotiated solution, said Hutchinson, who was the Independence Party's candidate for governor in 2006. Forum and poll participants indicated a weariness with the repeated failure of government officials to find compromise, he said.
More than 80 percent of the people polled support efficiency reforms as part of a long-term budget solution, and three-fourths said they favor state tax reform.
The Foundation held citizens forums in three Minnesota cities, including Rochester, between July 19 and 21. A statewide poll of 600 citizens by Wilder Research was conducted Aug. 1-4. The poll had a 4 percent statistical margin of error.
Former state Sen. Sheila Kiscaden, of Rochester, helped convene the forum in Rochester.
"What I found most impressive is that, both in the Citizen Solutions forums and in the poll, Minnesotans consistently voiced a willingness to face difficult choices head-on for the sake of future generations," she said. "When given the choice, they didn't take the easy way out. That says a lot about the character of Minnesotans, and it's a message that I hope others will take to heart."