Surpluses offer confusing picture
On Tuesday, a published Associated Press story reported Minnesota school districts are facing deficits. That same story says Minnesota districts face a $1 billion-a-year gap in the programs they are mandated to provide — and the state and federal funding to pay for it. If it was just a couple districts, one could claim bad management by district officials. However, there are 28 school districts in the Twin Cities area alone facing funding gaps. We also know our roads, highways and bridges are falling into disrepair. And then there is Thursday’s Minnesota budget update that projects the surplus has grown to more than $1.5 billion. In fact, according to the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, this is the seventh consecutive year of surpluses.
The numbers just don’t add up. Did our legislators budget properly during those seven years?
Support farm safety funding
Talking about funding, Gov. Tim Walz announced a $250,000 funding proposal that would help Minnesota farmers cover the costs of installing farm safety equipment. The governor reminded reporters during a press conference that 10 people have died in farming accidents since 2019. That’s 10 too many needless deaths. Legislators should support this funding.
Farmers need more global markets
The Kerkhoven Banner reported on a lecture delivered by agriculture economist Dr. David Kohl, who is a professor Emeritus at Virginia Tech. Besides being an economist, Koh is a small dairy farmer. According to the report, Kohl struck an optimistic tone in the beginning of the lecture, citing low interest rates and the United States being energy independent. Both the Trump administration and supporters of green energy get credit for that development. That’s because Kohl cited the combination of solar panels, fracking, wind turbines and ethanol. However he warned farmers from being to over-dependent on government income such as the recent $22 billion federal bailout of farmers by the Trump administration. He said farmers need to have a plan when the government checks stop coming. Kohl also cautioned the loss of international markets, especially because the world is becoming more and more globalized. He said one in five agriculture dollars comes from the international market. He warned against isolationist tendencies. Here’s hoping the Trump administration understands how important international markets are to farmers. With recent major trade deals now behind us, the administration needs to ramp up efforts to help U.S. farmers expand outreach into international markets.