Gov. Pawlenty not making cuts to local government aid this monthby Tom Scheck, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — Gov. Pawlenty said this Tuesday afternoon that he will not be making any cuts in aid to local governments this month.
Pawlenty suggested last week that he was considering withholding a December payment to local governments as a budget balancing measure. The state is facing a projected $1.2 billion budget deficit in the current two year budget cycle.
Pawlenty didn't rule out future cuts in aid payments. In a letter to local officials Pawlenty said he will not use his unallotment authority to trim $437 million in payments that will go out later this month. He said any local aid cuts should be focused on future payments.
St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman said he's relieved.
"It would have been disastrous not just for St. Paul but for cities across the state," Coleman said. "I think, the fact that he recognized that, whether it was a death bed conversion or a final recognition that cities have been taking the brunt of the cuts over the years, we're happy either way."
Coleman said he's still concerned that Pawlenty may target future aid payments to help erase the state's projected $1.2 billion budget deficit.
The governor is on a trade trip to South America. He urged state lawmakers to begin committee hearings now to deal with the budget shortfall. He wants lawmakers to address the budget shortfall immediately when they return for the 2010 legislative session in February.