As an economist, I would like to express my personal opinion regarding the state budget crisis to you. I think the last thing our governor (as well as other state governors) should do right now is cut the spending. In normal times, it is good to keep your budget balanced. But now is not. We are in a deep recession causing from the decline of aggregate demand, private sectors are laying off employees and cutting back. As a part of MnSCU, we should be responsible for the economy and be countercyclical. If we cut the spending now to match the projected revenue, we might find further lower realized revenue in the future. In other words, we might enter a vicious cycle.
I think our governor should not focus on what programs to cut but should work hard to get the federal funding to gap the shortfall. President-elect Obama had announced a at least $500 billion stimulus package.
Here I summarized several economists and professionals sharing the same idea with mine from New York Times.
We had learned lessons from the Great Depression in the 1930s and the “Lost Decade” in the 1990s in Japan. So we can and should avoid the same mistake this time. Facing the severe economy slump, President-elect Obama is smart to stop talking raising tax on the rich after he got elected. After we totally recover from the recession in the future, we could then think about spending cut or tax raising. Believe it or not, I predict that the forthcoming federal stimulus package will include helping with states’ deficits. So my hope is that we and our governor could hang in there for a while until federal stimulus money kicks in. If Governor Pawlenty really wants to cut the spending, he could cut his own salary to $1 like some CEOs.