Tim Pawlenty has my sympathy.
It’s budget time, and he’s trying to lead our great state in spending only what it takes in. That’s a very painful equation now with a depressed economic climate, declining federal support and increasing demands on education and health care. He says he wants a budget that will cut everything but K-12 education, safety and veteran’s benefits.
I get it, but it is going to be insane. And I mean that literally. The hospitals and programs that care for the most chronically mentally ill are being stripped of millions of dollars. That means that institutions like HCMC in downtown Minneapolis are not going to be able to run the adult emergency mental health unit as it has, and will have to turn people away everyday.
What does that mean? It means that those chronically mentally ill, many of whom are in and out of hospitals, chemical dependency units and homelessness are going to be showing up at your local emergency rooms. The sick in mind and body will have to share the same time with the ER docs, and that isn’t a good use of anybody’s time, energy or money.
I worry about this. Yet, what can be done but cut the budget? This seems like a weird turn of affairs in a state that just a handful of years ago (can you say Jessie?) had more money than it could spend and sent millions of dollars back in rebates. I wasn’t in favor of that then, and I am angry about that now. We need savings, even in government, for the downturns and rainy days. If this isn’t that time, I don’t know what is. We don’t get major earthquakes here in MN. But this budget crisis seems like an earthquake to me.
Good luck to our legislators, and the same to our governor. But Pawlenty should cut all his maybe-I’ll-run and maybe-I-won’t weekend runs to the presidential primary states. That is getting very old, Governor. It’s crunch time in our great state. Iowans don’t need more face time with you; Minnesotans do. Stay home, Tim, stay home!