Lately I've been engaged in some detailed research on government budgeting and finance, at all levels. I have discovered that most government entities, including city, county and school districts keep 2 sets of financial records.
1- Annual Budget, which is generally available to the public.
2- Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR), which the public rarely hears about.
For example, the State of Minnesota Annual Budget indicates that we are headed for a budget deficit of over $1 billion.
The State's CAFR reports, however, that the State has a $15 billion surplus for the fiscal year 2001. This is according to the State's own records (see www.finance.state.mn/cafr/index.html). And they want to RAISE our taxes!
This brings up many questions that governments at all levels need to answer.
1- Why are two sets of records necessary? (sounds real fishy).
2- Why aren't CAFRs made readily available for public scrutiny?
3- What are "discretely presented component units"? (sounds like techno-babble for: many facts are being hidden).
4- Why do CAFRs generally show that there are surpluses much greater than the annual budget shows?
5- Why don't the figures in these two reports match?
6- How much revenue are the state, city, county and school district hiding from the tax payers?
Today, I spent approx. 1 1/2 hours perusing these 2 reports for the City of New Ulm and found the figures to be disturbingly different.
For example, the Annual Budget for 2002 indicates total revenues and expenditures at $11,809,592, with a zero sum balance, which is as, it seems like, it should be.
However, in the CAFR on page viii revenue is indicated at $12,301,000. On page 4 the fund balance for "combined financial statements" is listed at $16,580,931. On page 2 "assets" are listed at $84,983,115; "cash and investments at $32,589,152; total fund equity at $53,197,479- page 6; total cash and cash equivalents at $21,331,036. And this is just a sampling.
Unforntunately, the state law does not require state nor local governments to report on moneys gained through the investment of your tax dollars. Why not? This law needs to be changed.
Also, governments use the excuse that so-called experts recommend that 30% of the total budget be kept on hand for a rainy day.
I say let those who pay the taxes decided how much of their tax dollars should be kept on hand, how much should be invested and that ALL moneys made through investments and other ventures must be reported to the tax payers, advertised and easily accessible.
By the way, the City of New Ulm charges $30.00 if a citizen wants a copy of the CAFR.
At this point I'm not yet so interested in the explanation of the above figures as I am in the answers to the 6 questions I asked above.
I will be continuing my research into the financial records of the state, city, county and school district. I hope others will do the same.
We need to hold our public officials accountable. They need to be completely forthcoming with us, the tax payers. And they need to give us the type of answers that the general public can understand, not all this techno-babble and excuses.
I am constantly amazed at the arrogance of government at all levels. It has even permeated the city government of New Ulm.
A few weeks ago I reported having discovered that the city keeps two sets of financial records, which do not agree with each other.
Now, as I am trying to research the voting records of the members of our city council, I have been informed by the city clerk that there are no such records kept. He states:"The City does not maintain a separate voting record by name".
INCREDIBLE! How are citizens of New Ulm supposed to hold members of the city council accountable for the use OUR tax dollars if we can't even find out how they vote on various issues that are important to us?
How are we supposed to know if members of the city council are doing the job WE the PEOPLE elected them to do?
How are we supposed to educate ourselves as to whom we should vote for?
This is an intolerable situation and apparently has been going on for years. And not one member of the city council, to my knowledge, has had the courage to stand up and speak out to correct this grievous error. No wonder average citizens don't trust the government and don't want to become involved.
I challenge the present city council to be real LEADERS and correct this irresponsible policy.
Electing Responsible Leaders-
As we enter another election season let us elect folks to office who truly understand the founding principles of this nation and will commit to following them.
When the British monarchy made the Church of England the state religion and persecuted those devout worshipers who chose other
religions the stage was finally set for migration to the new world, as a place where each could worship according to the dictates of his own conscience.
Our Founders had two main objects in mind in establishing our
constitutional republic- 1) Guaranteed God-given, unalienable rights- life, liberty and property; 2) Keeping government out of religious affairs- freedom of worship.
1) The Declaration states: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to
alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government,..."
2) The First Amendment declares: "Congress shall make no law
respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free
Concurrently, it is abundantly clear that our Founders believed that religion is the very basis of good government.
George Washington said: "It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible."
It was Thomas Jefferson's declared goal to have a church next to each college.
James Madison: "Religion is the basis and Foundation of
President John Adams: "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people."
Today we find the Ten Commandments in many courtrooms.
President Harry S Truman declared: "The fundamental basis of this
nation's law was given to Moses on the Mount(Ten Commandments). The
fundamental basis of the Bill of Rights comes from Exodus and
Matthew, Isaiah and the Apostle Paul. I don't think we emphasize that enough these days. If we do not have the proper fundamental moral background, we will finally wind up with a totalitarian government which does not believe in the rights of anybody except the state."
On our currency we find the words "In God We Trust."
We need to return God to our homes, government, and to our
classrooms. In so doing we will start the long uphill climb to
restoring that solid moral and social foundation upon which this
great nation was built.
Since near the turn of the 20th century many have mistakenly referred to our government as a "democracy" rather than the "constitutional republic" that it truly is. The distinction is of fundamental importance. In a democracy the majority always rules whether right or wrong. In our constitutional republican basic principles of truth and right, which come from God, are the guiding force to the Constitution and American law.
The Declaration of Independence states: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their CREATOR with certain UNALIENABLE rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to
alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government,..."
At the time of the American Revolution a substantial majority of Americans were NOT willing to confront Great Britain. It took the courage of LEADERS like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and Alexander Hamilton, among others, to stand up to King George's oppressive regime and formidable armed forces.
George Washington declared: "It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible."
We need the same type courageous of leaders today, those who are willing to stand up for truth and right, no matter how seemingly unpopular, nor whatever the political and social consequences may be.
Most of the political rhetoric we hear today from elected officials, party leaders and candidates, from both sides of the isle, is that of compromising away the principles of the Constitution. Rather than sticking their collective neck out to stand up for what is right they claim that staying in the "middle" and "coming together" is the only way to make progress. Nonesense.
Ronald Reagan proved that there is still a majority of Americans who want politicians to stand up for the God-given principles espoused in the Declaration and the Constitution.
As we enter this election season let's make every effort to find those candidates who are real LEADERS and who have the courage to clearly stand for what's right and let's vote out of office the compromisers and fence-sitters.
Education and Taxes-
I'm no big fan of Jesse Ventura's, but he did the right thing in vetoing the "bike trail" bill.
We hear this constant whining from a vocal, elitist minority that we don't have enough funding for education and yet so-called conservatives, like Dennis Frederickson, are willing to vote for $1.1 million for a bike trail. Give me a break!
And, if you really want to have adequate funding for education take funding out of the hands of the federal and state governments, where over 50% of our education tax dollars are wasted on government administration costs, and return 100% of education tax dollar control to local communities.
Choose Life... Your Parents Did
Adopt-A-Child-Of-God: Prevent An Abortion
Who should educate this teenager about abortion? Her PARENTS should, NOT public schools nor any other government agency.
Dear Pro-Lifers: We have established a new no nonsense pro-life organization. Our purpose is to unequivocally advocate the God-given right to life for unborn children. We will accomplish this purpose with volunteers and contributions through one-on-one contact with legislators, friends and associates, as well as, through inexpensive advertising and networking on the internet. Our efforts will complement those of other pro-life organizations, which, are doing much good, but, though well-intentioned, more often than not, have the tendency to compromise for the sake political expediency. The result is the misperception that most Americans support abortions, when, indeed, the opposite is true. We need volunteers to spread the word to friends, associates and legislators through personal visits, mail, telephone, email, etc. Also, if there is a professional web master(s) who is willing to volunteer to create a professional looking web site, that effort is much-needed and will be much-appreciated. Our present free web site is simple and straight forward, but we hope to have a professional looking site soon. Your ideas, thoughts, and financial contributions are needed. We will use monetary donations to advertise our convictions in local newspapers and on local radio, the most effective and least expensive methods. We will also organize efforts to contact legislators. The most effective ways to influence legislators is through personal visits, letters and phone calls. Please volunteer to make a difference. For further information and make a contribution please mail, email, phone or fax us at: Ben Thompson Campaign, 510 12th St. N., New Ulm, MN 56073, email@example.com(email), 507 359-1116 208 975-1135 (fax).
Roe v. Wade Must Be Struck Down
Roe v. Wade must be struck down- The following is an article from the National Right to Life News- March 11, 1998, quoting Supreme Court Justice Byron R. White's dissenting opinion: "At the heart of the controversy in these cases are those recurring pregnancies that pose no danger whatsoever to the life or health of the mother but are, nevertheless, unwanted for anyone of more than a variety of reasons- convenience, family planning, economics, dislike of children, the embarrassment of illegitimacy, etc. "I find nothing in the language or history of the Constitution to support the court's judgement. The court simply fashions and announces a new constitutional right for pregnant mothers and, with scarcely any reason or authority for its action, invests that right with sufficient substance to override most existing state abortion statutes...As an exercise in raw judicial power, the court perhaps has authority to do what it does today; but in my view its judgement is an improvident and extravagant exercise of the power of judicial review."
Traditional families, basic education, community involvement, Judeo-Chrisitan values- are they becoming passe' in modern society? Many of today's liberal media want us to believe that the Ten Commandments, the Golden Rule and the Beatitudes are old fashion. Well, old they are, but, with most Americans they are still in fashion. Why? For the past 3500 years, in one form or another, they have proven themselves. According to our Founding Fathers these biblical truths are the very foundation of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and American law. Why, then, do so many in the media, government leaders, establishment politicians, and even many of our clergy continue to undermine these tried and true principles? In part, it is because they are out of touch with real Americans. It is also due to their personal lack of moral and spiritual foundations. They espouse and spread their misperceptions based on pseudo-intellectual, biased, and misleading information and many uninformed, naive Americans believe these "politically correct" spins. WE the PEOPLE are not without blame in this unfortunate scenario. It is our responsibility to search out the truth and distinguish it from falsehood. How can this be done in this age of soundbites and news blitzes? As our Founding Fathers were struggling, without success, to create the Constitution, Ben Franklin admonished, "...If a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without God's notice it is likely that a nation cannot rise without His aid..." From that day forward that solemn assembly of humbled men started each session with a prayer, imploring God's inspiration and foresight and, thereby, were successful in formulating the God-inspired Consitution. Should we not apply this same method to discovering truth for ourselves? The scriptures affirm that we should (James 1:5; John 16:13; John 8:32). Our 2nd President, John Adams, stated that the Constitution is for a righteous people only. A vocal minority, in this country, is trying to convince us that we have certain "rights" and "entitlements" without responsibility. Is this righteousness? Hardly! This same group of elitists also believes and acts as if government and various other groups of bureaucrats know more about what's good for us than WE the PEOPLE do. The result is massive pork barrel spending; lengthy, complicated laws, that lawyers pretend they understand, and a maze of red tape, regulations, and mandates that boggle the mind. For the 105th Congress the House of Representatives, led by true conservatives, adopted a new rule: "Each report of a committee on a bill or joint resolution... shall include a statement citing the specific powers granted to the Congress in the Constitution to enact the law proposed..." The intentions were good, but, unfortunately, only a minority of those who passed that rule have the courage to vote for its enforcement when it comes time to vote on legislation. It is our individual and collective responsibility to find the truth, support only laws that have their basis in the Constitution, and act according those principles taught in the Holy Scriptures.
The 2nd Amendment clearly indicates that ALL law-abiding adults have the God-given, unalienable, permanent right to keep and bear arms, as citizen soldiers and for self protection.
The DECLARATION and CONSTITUTION protect life
The Declaration of Independence states: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." The 5th Amendment to the Constitution affirms these rights, using the same language. Without Life First no one can enjoy liberty, nor pursue happiness. Many of the original leaders and hardcore supporters of the abortion movement have realized what a grievous mistake they've made by supporting abortion rights and by misleading and lying to the American people to further their cause. People such as Bernard Nathanson, former abortion doctor and director of the world's largest abortion clinic, have made deeply personal turnabouts in their lives and many others are following suit. Throughout the United States your tax dollars are being used to support elective abortions. This abominable practice must be stopped. Together we can put pressure on incumbent politicians and candidates to vote against abortion and appoint pro-life judges. You have an excellent opportunity to do your important part to overturn Roe v. Wade and stop abortions by making a generous contribution to LIFE FIRST. Now is your opportunity to make a real difference. Please contribute $5, $10, $15 or more, or whatever you can, to this vital cause by sending a generous contribution by mail to: Life First 510 12th N., New Ulm, MN 56073 Thank you!
Ben Thompson Campaign
510 12th St. N.
New Ulm, MN 56073
507 359-1116 (phone)
208 975-1135 (fax)