Pawlenty, lawmakers discuss bonding bill, deficitby Tom Scheck, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — Gov. Tim Pawlenty plans to propose a list of state-backed construction projects next week, as he and top lawmakers prepare for the upcoming legislative session.
Pawlenty and legislative leaders met privately Friday afternoon to discuss the new session, and the state's looming $1.2 billion budget deficit.
DFL legislative leaders said they hope to pass a public works construction bill in the first weeks of the session, which begins on Feb. 4.
Republican House Minority Leader Kurt Zellers said he'd prefer that lawmakers wait until the state gets a budget update in late February.
"I think we need to see what the next budget cycle is going to look like in the February forecast -- if it's going to be $1.2 or, God willing, it's $700 or $800 million - a little bit less," said Zellers. "I don't think we should go out and spend a whole bunch of money on bonding before we know the situation we're in."
Pawlenty spokesman Brian McClung said the governor may be willing to support some construction projects early in the session. He said Pawlenty's proposal will be roughly $750 million, which is smaller than what the DFLers intend to propose.
Majority Democrats are also pushing for tax credits and other legislation to spur small businesses, and a plan to keep more than 30,000 low-income adults insured when their state health care program ends in March.
McClung said Pawlenty is also preparing a proposal to fix the state's $1.2 billion deficit through spending cuts.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report)