It might not seem like much, but it should be noted that both the Minnesota House and Senate this week took some money-saving action by taking money out of their own pockets.
The House Rules Committee on Monday reduced the maximum housing allowance by 25 percent to $21,600 over the two-year legislative session. The lodging allowance now equates to $900 a month instead of $1,200 and is offered to members who live at least 50 miles from the Capitol.
Also Monday, a Senate rules panel approved a $10 cut in daily expense payments - a 10 percent reduction. Senators can now claim $86 a day instead of $96. Number-crunching notwithstanding, these are symbolic moves that show legislators are serious about cutting back as the state faces a $6.2 billion deficit. Is it a cure-all? No, not even close, but at least these moves show our lawmakers are willing to make some sacrifices for the betterment of the state. Truth be told, the allowances our state lawmakers were receiving should've never gotten that high in the first place and they should've been curtailed years ago. But desperate times call for some kind of measures.
Taking care of the state's deficit will not be accomplished by one fell swoop; the future of the state's financial outlook will depend on a number of smaller actions. A little here, a little there all added up will make a difference.
Of course, many tough decisions still lie ahead - cost-saving decisions that will have ripple effects throughout every corner of the state, decisions that will impact everything from government aid to cities and counties, to education and transportation - but the Legislature got the session off to a good start by making these small, yet symbolic, sacrifices.