In her almost daily youtube update today, Assistant Majority Leader Tarryl Clark provided some pointed criticism of Tim Pawlenty and his continued media onslaught against the Obama Administration while at the same time ignoring many of the problems we have here in Minnesota.

In an email Clark sent out yesterday, she touts the Senate budget plan introduced last month which makes cuts across the board over the next four years.

The Senate believes its proportionate and balanced solution is the fairest and most equitable approach. It also positions the state for quicker recovery and stronger growth once the financial storm is weathered. The Senate also takes a fiscally responsible approach. Using a combination of cuts, federal recovery funds and new revenues it brings the state budget into balance for not only the next two years, but also the two years beyond that. This is something our Governor does not plan to do. Instead he pushes much of our present problems into the next two years. Seemingly he is hoping, and that’s all it is, is a hope, that things will get much better, much sooner than most economists believe. If his hope is misplaced Minnesota will be in even worse financial straits.

The Senate plan calls for a 7% proportional cut for each of the budget areas. However, those reductions will be softened by using federal recovery funds in several key areas, including education, health care and the courts. Recently the Senate passed its Early Education through 12th grade finance bill. Federal funds will reduce the cuts in this area to about 3%. Higher education funding cuts will be reduced to about 2%. The bill even provides a slight increase in early childhood education funding. Many studies have indicated early childhood education provides the best return on investment for taxpayer dollars.

While the Senate proposes reduced funding to schools, cities and counties, it also cuts some of the strings that usually come attached to that funding. The idea is to enhance local control and allow local authorities more discretion in how they spend the money. The belief is that less red tape will keep more teachers in the classroom and more police on the street.

As an educator I cannot say that I am terribly pleased with the level of the cuts found, especially to education, in the Senate version of the budget but at the same time my common sense side can understand that of the three plans out there right now this one is the one which most effectively addresses the problems facing the state.