A projected $4.5 billion state budget deficit over the next 2 1/2 years was no surprise to many area residents who were eating at Westside Cafe in Brainerd Wednesday.
"It doesn't surprise me," said Ron Huber of Brainerd. He said government always spends more than it receives.
Wayne Grattan, Brainerd, also was not shocked about the deficit.
Grattan said people are held accountable for their finances and have to pay the consequences if they spend money they don't have. He said the government should be held accountable, too.
Huber said he'd suggest cutting the welfare system and the paperwork, especially for teachers, as measures to offset part of the budget deficit.
"I could look at any department in the budget and I could get rid of something," he said. "If we get rid of the 98 percent red tape ... but that won't happen because of the politicians."
Grattan said too many people on welfare are spending money they don't have and the people who need the money don't get it.
Grattan said he does not want to hear politicians' promises during elections, he wants to see results. He said the problem with the economy is "people don't take care of the employees."
Lela Kotlan, who was working at the cafe, said the deficit amount is ironic as the state had money three years ago. She noted the refunds and rebates.
Kotlan also was not surprised by the deficit.
"We've been in the red before and we'll be there again," she said. "I'll pay my taxes no matter what they are."
Brainerd resident Bess Baker and rural Brainerd resident Don Caldwell had questions regarding the state budget.
"What happened to our surplus?" asked Caldwell. "... They need to handle the money better."
Caldwell said the government believes the economy will be fine if the country goes to war. He said this is not true and going to war would only make the country go broke.
When asked about the economy, Caldwell said, "We need the Democrats back. We had the best economy ever when they were in."
"I'm tired of them (the Republicans) saying the economy is good when it isn't," said Baker.
Al Wikstrum of Baxter said the government is too big and it needs to be cut.
"There are too many people handling it (the budget)," he said.
Wikstrum said the government is spending its money foolishly. He said it does not need to spend money on arts and museums. He also said the state does not need a new football or baseball stadium.
"They shouldn't even be talking about it (a new stadium)," he said.
Wikstrum said the state should keep funding unemployment. He also said he hopes Gov.-elect Tim Pawlenty keeps his word and does not raise taxes.
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