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Session 2003

Session 2003: Budget and Taxes

After a drawn-out battle on whether to raise taxes, Senate DFLers decided at the end of the regular session to abandon the fight. Senate Majority Leader John Hottinger said Democrats became convinced Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a Republican, was prepared to shut down the government rather than break his pledge not to raise taxes. That meant a $4.23 billion budget shortfall was erased solely through shifts, cuts and fees. The biggest cuts came in health and social services programs.

Legislative negotiators are putting the finishing touches on a $7.4 billion dollar health and human services bill. They've hit a couple of snags as they wrap up the nearly 800-page bill. The bill could be the last piece of legislation passed in special session. (05/28/2003)
The Legislature's extended stay at the Capitol was extended indefinitely Tuesday when new issues entered the picture and old ones wouldn't fade. By late afternoon, no votes had been taken on major budget issues, and negotiations on a $7.4 billion health and human services bill were still not completed. (05/27/2003)
The bonding bill agreed to by legislative leaders provides money for a new Guthrie Theater and an expansion for the Children's Theatre Company - two flagship playhouses that are basking in recent national attention. (05/27/2003)
Gov. Tim Pawlenty and legislative leaders have made a major breakthrough in budget negotations. Negotiators met late Sunday night and into Monday morning to craft agreements on transportation funding, aid payments to local governments, and state borrowing. Lawmakers are expected to tackle the final piece of the puzzle: the health and human services budget. (05/26/2003)
Legislative leaders negotiated into the night Saturday, but didn't reach agreement on the three outstanding budget bills or on a bonding bill. The rest of the Legislature has gone home after sending a nuclear waste storage bill to the governor. (05/25/2003)
After two days of a special session, lawmakers have sent just two budget bills to the governor. The pace is slower than legislative leaders had hoped -- and the largest spending bills are still unresolved. One key lawmaker indicated the session could drag on past the self-imposed deadline of the end of the week. (05/21/2003)
The Minnesota Historical Society will close seven of its 27 historical sites and lay off nearly one-third of its staff due to state budget cuts. The society will lose $8 million in state funding over the next two years. The sites, around the state, will be closed to the public, but will still be maintained. (05/20/2003)
Minnesota lawmakers ended the 2003 session at midnight Monday, after passing just a small portion of the state budget. The House and Senate sent two budget bills to the governor, repealed the state's Profile of Learning graduation standards and passed a 2 a.m. bar closing bill. But the final hours of the session were marked by a bitter fight on the Senate floor which prevented a Prairie Island bill from a vote. (05/20/2003)
Conference committees are meeting at the Capitol, now that legislative leaders have agreed to a $28.3 billion budget over the next two years. The agreement was reached less than 12 hours after Senate DFLers abandoned their push to raise taxes to help erase the state's projected $4.2 billion deficit. (05/17/2003)
Senate Democrats say they've abandoned their efforts to raise taxes to balance the budget this session. DFL leaders say since Republicans won't budge from their no-tax-increase stance, a prolonged battle will only cause further pain to Minnesotans. Their announcement resolves the biggest debate of the legislative session, but many other details must still be worked out. (05/16/2003)
Budget talks continue at the Capitol, with five days to go until the end of the legislative session. Legislative leaders say they've made some progress, but a deep divide remains over taxes. Gov. Tim Pawlenty and House Republican leaders say they won't raise state taxes to balance the budget. Senate DFL leaders say it's hard to find middle ground if Republicans won't compromise. (05/14/2003)
The state Senate has voted for $1 billion in new taxes. The plan would create a new income tax bracket for the state's wealthiest households and raise the cigarette tax by a dollar per pack. It also increases a statewide levy on business property. ( 05/14/2003)
Gov. Tim Pawlenty says he'll call state lawmakers back for a special session immediately if they don't reach agreement on a state budget by next Monday. Pawlenty and House Speaker Steve Sviggum, R-Kenyon, say they're concerned that there won't be enough time to finish all of their work even if an overall budget framework is agreed upon soon. (05/13/2003)
The Minnesota Senate on Tuesday approved more than $1 billion in new taxes to ease the state's budget crunch. The measure passed on a 35-to-31 party line vote with Democrats in support. The tax plan also contains funding provisions for K-12 education, and must now be reconciled with the no-new-taxes approach favored by Gov. Tim Pawlenty and House Republicans. (05/13/2003)
Next Monday Minnesota lawmakers must adjourn the 2003 legislative session. They have lots of work to do before then, including coming up with the next two-year budget in the face of a projected $4.2 billion shortfall. Legislative leaders have not yet agreed on overall spending targets, which means conference committees are still waiting to do their work. MPR <i>Morning Edition</i> host Cathy Wurzer previews the week with Capitol Bureau Chief Laura McCallum. (05/12/2003)
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Audio Highlights

Pawlenty's session postscript (6/4/03)
The governor discusses the budget and the session during a speech to the Society of Professional Journalists' meeting in Minneapolis
The view from former governors (5/13/03)
Former governors Arne Carlson, Wendell Anderson, Elmer L. Andersen and Al Quie give free advice to Gov. Pawlenty
Gov. Pawlenty announces "unallotment" cuts Takes action after legislators fail to make a deal (2/7/03)
Gov. Pawlenty inaugural address
Pawlenty's budget message (2/18/03)
Issues budget in attempt to close deficit
Pawlenty unveils budget cuts Proposes a mix of cuts to close short-term deficit (1/14/03)
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