Pawlenty to meet with DFL, warns against tax hikesby Martiga Lohn, Associated Press
St. Paul, Minn. — Gov. Tim Pawlenty said he has invited top legislative Democrats to his office on Thursday to discuss fixing Minnesota's deficit.
The Republican underlined his opposition to higher taxes in an interview with The Associated Press on a military flight to Minneapolis from Fort Lewis, Wash., where he visited Minnesota National Guard troops preparing to deploy to Iraq.
He said DFLers probably won't find the GOP votes they would need to overrule him on taxes.
Democrats who control the Legislature have outlined intentions to raise $1.5 billion to $2 billion in taxes, with details pending on separate House and Senate proposals.
A tax increase can't become law without Pawlenty's approval or at least three House Republicans joining all DFL lawmakers to override a veto.
"It's a dead end for them. It's a public policy cul-de-sac. It doesn't go anywhere," Pawlenty said.
Democrats banded with eight GOP legislators last year to overrule Pawlenty's veto of a $6.6 billion transportation package, including a gas tax increase and other taxes.
The vote came months after the deadly Interstate 35W bridge collapse drew attention to aging infrastructure in Minnesota and across the nation.
But this year, with a two-year deficit pegged at $4.6 billion, or about 13 percent of the state budget, Pawlenty said he feels confident he won't be overridden. He said he plans to meet with House Republicans this week.
Rep. Doug Magnus, R-Slayton, said Republicans are unlikely to buck Pawlenty on taxes.
The governor urged Democrats to put out details of their tax proposals, but said he expects them to wait until May "to minimize the window of pummeling." He said an on-time session finish by May 18 is still within reach.
Areas of disagreement also include the use of one-time funds to balance the budget and the details of how to cut spending.
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)