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Letter of the day: Budget woes haven't affected Rybak's focus on public safety

  • June 15, 2009 - 9:35 PM
The June 12 Star Tribune article "Federal police aid less than Minneapolis expected" paints an inaccurate and incomplete picture about my commitment to public safety, especially as we respond to the significant funding cuts coming as a result of the state's budget deficit. My record of commitment to making public safety our No. 1 budget priority is clear, as are the results of these investments. We are spending more on public safety in Minneapolis than at any time since I was elected, and crime is down for the third year in a row by double-digit percentages. Decisions about the size of our police force are being determined by the amount of state funding we receive, an amount that has not yet been determined. Because of the state deficit, we will likely receive millions of dollars less than we currently receive and tens of millions less than we used to receive before the state got into its fiscal mess. No one can expect that the effects of gigantic state budget deficits as far as the eye can see would not affect the state's largest city. In February when I revised the city's 2009 budget to respond to the latest round of state budget cuts, we were weighing many unknown variables: a troubled economy, state budget cuts and pending federal economic recovery funds. We developed the best budget possible under those conditions and kept our commitment to public safety. The budget I proposed in fact cut the Police Department by a smaller percentage than other departments and maintained our current levels of sworn police on the street. Federal economic recovery dollars have helped us keep officers on the street, both in Minneapolis and Hennepin County, during state budget cuts. The Star Tribune mischaracterized the agreement we made with Hennepin County about how to share public safety resources from the federal economic recovery, which was an agreement I supported. Not only did the stimulus funding help keep Minneapolis police on the street, it will also help boost public safety in the suburbs that surround Minneapolis. There is no doubt that, until the state gets its fiscal house in order and stops the deficit spending that is crippling our cities, we will continue to see deep financial challenges, which federal stimulus dollars can only meet for so long. Through this difficult period, I will do everything in my power to maintain our commitment to keeping public safety our top priority.

MAYOR R.T. RYBAK, MINNEAPOLIS

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