The following article by Rachel E. Stassen-Berger with the St. Paul PioneerPress appeared September 30, 2015:
Gov. Mark Dayton on Wednesday shared a nerdy way to look at government spending to trumpet that Minnesota is not spending beyond its means.
“I say we are on the right track and we should stay within that track,” Dayton said.
The DFL governor, and his Minnesota Management and Budget commissioner Myron Frans, said that the “price of government” index has steadily decreased over the past two decades and is projected to fall to its lowest level by 2019.
The price of government measure compares the cost of all government services — from school districts to income taxes — to total statewide personal income.
In the current fiscal year, the price of government is projected to be 15.4 percent. That means that for each dollar Minnesotans have income, 15.4 cents goes to pay for government services.
In recent years, Minnesota saw the lowest cost of government services in 2009, when Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty was in charge and the nationwide economic downturn hit. That fiscal year, Minnesotans paid an average of 14.7 cents for state, county, city and school district services per dollar they earned.
Frans said that if program offerings remain unchanged and Minnesotans’ personal incomes continue to grow as expected, the price of government will be 14.6 percent by 2019.
During the Dayton administration, which started in 2011, the price of government has actually decreased on average compared the price of government in the last five years of Pawlenty’s administration.
House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, sees little positive in the numbers Dayton touted.
“Today’s report from the Dayton Administration simply reinforces the need to curb the growth in government spending so that Minnesotans can keep more of their hard-earned dollars,” Daudt said in a statement.
The roll out of the nerdy numbers comes as Dayton has worked to push out what he sees as good news for his administration’s progress.
“I don’t know any administration that thinks it gets enough credit,” Dayton said with a laugh. “My job is to put out the good news and hope that it gets as much attention as the bad news gets.”
The Democratic governor, who raised taxes on high income Minnesotans and increased spending on programs, said that he is used to detractors seeing him as a big spending, liberal who can do no right.
“I’m always under attack. I’m used to being under attack,” Dayton said. “To say that I’m under attack does not mean that I’m surprised.”