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Education rates high in poll

January 23, 2009 - Lee Smith
I generally find the results of the Sentinel's online polls to be interesting. I do take them with a grain of salt, given the area's demographics and generally right-leaning populace. We probably average 400 responses to our poll, which is a pretty good number.

Anyway, the recent results of a question about Minnesota's deficit and what parts of the state budget should be spared first were good and bad, in my opinion. A big plurality of people (44 percent) said education should be the state's priority for funding. I can understand this, given the constituational mandate to provide public education and the emphasis parents place on education, as well as how business leaders and others look at its importance.

The baffling response to me was the No. 2 vote-getter — outdoors, environment and tourism, which garnered 21 percent support. This topped courts and public safety (at 14 percent), which it seems to me has to be right at the top of state responsibilities. While there may be a lot of enthusiasm for the outdoors, I can't see how anyone can argue that it is more important than a system of justice.

In any case, I was glad to see transportation ranked low, with just 6 percent support. The Legislature did, after all, commit a whopping $6 billion in bonds to transportation during the 2008 session.

The other response rounding out the list was health and human services with 16 percent support. This is, of course, the fastest-growing cost for the state, as it tries to meet more and more needs while witnessing an aging population. The simple fact is that this spending is not sustainable. Cuts might as well come now when the budget problem is forcing it anyway.


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