House Democrats rely on reserves for budget fixby Tim Pugmire, Minnesota Public Radio
Democrats in the Minnesota House are proposing a budget fix that relies heavily on the state's rainy day funds.
St. Paul, Minn. — A resolution approved by the House Ways and Means Committee would empty a $350 million cash flow account and use $273 million from the budget reserve to help solve a projected $935 million budget deficit.
Gov. Tim Pawlenty has proposed a budget plan using a lesser amount of the reserves. But DFL leaders say unlike the governor, they do not use a surplus in the health care access fund as part of their fix.
The rest of the DFL plan comes from a mix of spending cuts and new revenue created from changes in the state tax code.
House Majority Leader Tony Sertich said the state will still have a healthy reserve under the DFL plan.
"When you have reserves or a rainy day fund you use it when appropriate," he said. "And it's rainy out there in our economy. And so I think we're taking a balanced approach of using some reserves but also making those cuts and revenue where appropriate."
The DFL budget resolution also includes nearly $23 million in extra spending for public schools. DFL House leaders did not provide any details about the spending cuts that would be necessary to balance the budget under their plan.
Rep. Mary Liz Holberg, R-Lakeville, said she has concerns with the plan.
"It's also quite clear that a majority of the dollars are one-time money," she said. "And you don't get to structural deficit reduction without having structural cuts or more than one- time money. So, there's plenty more work to do, and we'll find out how serious they are when they actually put together their bill on Thursday."
The DFL resolution also sets the spending targets for a dozen budget bills. House leaders want to give public schools a funding increase and protect public health care programs, nursing homes and college students from cuts.