Pawlenty to announce budget proposalby Tim Pugmire, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — Governor Tim Pawlenty is scheduled to release his proposal Tuesday for solving a projected $4.8 billion budget deficit.
Governor Pawlenty says his plan will balance the state budget largely through spending cuts.
He's already identified health and human services programs and state aid to cities and counties among the targeted areas.
Under current law, spending in those areas of the budget would grow by 19 percent over the next two years. But Pawlenty says his budget would hold that growth to 4 percent.
Rep. Paul Thissen, D-Minneapolis, chair of the House Health and Human Services Committee, says substantial reductions will hurt Minnesota families.
Thissen said he is also concerned about the potential harm to hospitals, clinics and nursing homes.
"We need to keep the institutions that have made Minnesota such a great place to live intact, so that when we come out of this recession and this budget deficit we're stronger than we were before," Thissen said.
Thissen said he expects spending levels for health and human services will be a major area of debate in the coming weeks.
Pawlenty is also counting on the state getting some level of budget relief from a federal economic stimulus bill.
Pawlenty said that an amount, yet to be determined, of one-time federal aid would help Minnesota get through the next two years.
"We face such a historic crisis and the problem is so large that I don't think we can be picky about how we fill this gap. It just needs to be filled," Pawlenty said.
The Republican governor said he will modify his budget proposal when the amount of federal money is known, and again after the state updates its economic forecast.