Paul Austin

Paul Austin is the director of Conservation Minnesota, a statewide non-profit. In that role, he gets to hear and share Minnesotan’s stories about our lakes, lands and way of life. Paul’s past lives include election as a small town mayor, serving at the US Agency for International Development, and managing a small marketing firm. He lives in Minneapolis with his wife, two small children and one very large dog.

No Raids, No Shifts, No Gimmicks

Posted by: Paul Austin Updated: February 7, 2013 - 12:45 PM
Today Conservation Minnesota released a report that analyzed the governor’s recently released budget proposal, and found a refreshing amount of transparency in the proposal. 
 
For each of the past ten years, Conservation Minnesota has issued similar reports on gubernatorial budget proposals as well as follow-up reports on final budget actions and bonding packages.  In doing so, the organization has become accustomed to uncovering gimmicks and shifts that have masked the real impact of decreasing funding to conservation issues.
 
But with this budget, the organization found that the shifts and gimmicks of the past are absent.  When the organization issued its first report in 2002, support for conservation was on a steady decline, reaching just 1% of general fund spending by 2008.  Since then, shifts and cuts have decreased that percent by nearly one third.  The governor’s current budget proposal stabilizes funding and does not rely on raids, shifts or budgeting gimmicks. 
 
I am encouraged by the fact that the Governor stuck to his word, delivering a straightforward budget proposal.  There are cuts to conservation and areas that require increased funding, but the Governor’s proposal stops the bleeding and starts an honest discussion about how to protect Minnesota’s lakes, lands, and way of life.  
 
This year’s report, which is available at http://www.conservationminnesota.org/nogimmicks/, analyzes the budget and provides recommendations for how the legislature should work to strengthen the proposal . 

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