Pawlenty open to 'lights-on' billby Tom Scheck, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — Governor Tim Pawlenty said he's open to a bill that would keep core government services running in case an overall budget deal isn't reached.
The Republican governor and DFL legislative leaders are at an impasse over how to resolve the state's projected $4.6 billion budget deficit. The Senate has already passed a so-called "lights-on" bill that would allow government services to continue at current funding levels through July first of 2010.
A similar bill is awaiting a vote on the House floor. Pawlenty said he could support a "lights-on" bill, but isn't sure if he can agree to the one being considered by the Legislature.
"A responsible and sustainable lights-on bill would actually make some sense," Pawlenty said. The one that they have is something we'd have to take a look at because it appears to set the state up for spending much higher than revenues coming in the door."
The Legislature has until Monday to finish its work. Democrats have called for tax increases to plug the budget hole, while Governor Pawlenty supports borrowing, delaying payments to schools and draining the state's budget reserves.