GOP's deficit-reduction bill advances in Legislatureby Tim Pugmire, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — The Senate Finance Committee has approved a Republican-backed plan to reduce the state's projected $6.2 billion budget deficit by about $1 billion.
Sen. Claire Robling, R-Jordan, amended her bill to require $125 million in immediate cuts rather than $200 million. The move will protect military and veterans programs, as well as college tuition aid. Robling said the lesser amount can still be found.
"We are asking with five months remaining in the fiscal cycle for them to find $125 million," she said. "And we think it's possible. We think that there can be every rock overturned and look for some money that is not expended, that might not need to be expended before the end of the year."
The bill also makes permanent about $800 million of one-time cuts that were passed last session.
Sen. Ellen Anderson, DFL-St. Paul, said she was frustrated by the bill, which will let un-elected officials make budget-balancing decisions.
"If you just cut some now and cut some more later and cut some more later, is anyone counting the total? And is anyone predicting what the total cuts will be in different areas and prioritizing?" she said. "That's why we were elected."
The full Senate will now vote on the bill. The House version of the bill, which still calls for $200 million in immediate spending cuts, is also ready for a floor vote.