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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.

As the Legislature heads into the closing days of the debate over how to eliminate the budget deficit, a Minneapolis couple has entered the fray. They've started a Web site and a lawn-sign campaign and are calling on lawmakers to keep tax increases on the negotiating table. (04/28/2003)
Gov. Tim Pawlenty says he doesn't want his term to be defined by the state's financial crisis. Pawlenty recently completed his first 100 days in office. He says despite the deficit, he's laid out a reform agenda focusing on education, economic development and transportation. But critics say Pawlenty's budget proposal contains little reform, and the governor's no-tax-increase pledge will reverse the gains Minnesota has made in recent years. (04/27/2003)
Gov. Tim Pawlenty is adamant the budget should be balanced without raising taxes. Pawlenty campaigned heavily on a no-new-tax pledge that was originally promoted by the Taxpayers League of Minnesota. In just a few years, Taxpayers League has become a major force in Minnesota politics. ( 04/22/2003)
Minnesota lawmakers are back at the Capitol after a break for the Easter-Passover holiday. The state constitution says legislators must finish their work by May 19, and there's still a lot of work to do. At the top of the agenda is agreeing on a new state budget, in the face of a projected $4.2 billion shortfall. Morning Edition host Cathy Wurzer spoke with two leaders who will be heavily involved in negotiations in the next month, Republican House Speaker Steve Swiggum, and DFL Senate Majority Leader John Hottinger. (04/22/2003)
In just five and a half years, the Taxpayers League of Minnesota has become a major political force in Minnesota. Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty is one the main supporters of the league and its no new taxes theme. Critics, many of them DFLers, accuse the league of misrepresenting the tax debate. (04/21/2003)
There's a month left, and almost nothing has been accomplished. In other words, the Legislature is right on pace. Gov. Tim Pawlenty says he knows it's not unusual that so much remains to be done before the May 19 deadline. He was a House leader in 2001 when a special session dragged the state to the verge of a shutdown. (04/20/2003)
Friday is the last official day of work for 34 Minneapolis firefighters who have been cut to offset expected cuts in state aid. Some firefighters will return to jobs they held before joining the force; others face unemployment. But many say they are more concerned about what the layoffs will mean to the residents of Minneapolis. (04/17/2003)
After three months of work, the Minnesota Legislature has agreed on one major piece of legislation; passing a bill requiring a 24-hour waiting period for abortions. Meanwhile, work continues on budget bills, with little indication that the House and Senate will agree on spending priorities. ( 04/17/2003)
Gov. Tim Pawlenty took his no-new-taxes message to Duluth on Tuesday. A few protesters and some in the audience expressed reservations about the governor's plan, but Pawlenty stuck to his message. (04/15/2003)
On the deadline for Americans to file their taxes, the tax debate heated up a notch at the Capitol. Several groups used Tuesday's filing deadline to either call for tax increases or argue for holding the line on taxes. At the same time, the House is moving quickly to approve budget bills that conform with Gov. Pawlenty's no-tax-increase pledge. (04/15/2003)
The Senate Democrats' budget plan includes a new income tax bracket for upper-income Minnesotans. Republicans immediately called the proposal class warfare, and said it would drive job creators out of the state. DFL leaders say they're simply asking wealthy Minnesotans to share the pain along with the rest of the state. (04/11/2003)
The latest news on the war in Iraq from the BBC World Service. And, Gov. Tim Pawlenty is traveling to several cities in Minnesota Tuesday to press his budget plan. Senate DFLers Monday released their proposal to fix the projected $4.2-billion deficit. Their plan would raise about $1 billion from higher income and tobacco taxes. The DFL plan also would put more money into K-12 education, colleges, health care and local government than Pawlenty and the House would. In February Pawlenty released his proposal for solving the anticipated deficit without raising state taxes. ( 04/08/2003)
Senate DFLers have proposed solving Minnesota's budget crisis with higher taxes on income and cigarettes. The plan also would cut some corporate tax exemptions. Now that all parties have proposals on the table, the real negotiating begins. ( 04/08/2003)
In a direct challenge to Gov. Tim Pawlenty's no-new-tax pledge, Senate Democrats on Monday proposed a budget plan that would raise more than $1 billion from higher income and tobacco taxes. The proposal raises the income tax rate on those who earn more than $250,000 a year and adds $1 to the current 48 cents per-pack cigarette tax. (04/07/2003)
A look at the Democrats' budget-balancing proposal, released Monday. Republican lawmakers brought out their own budget proposals Thursday. ( 04/07/2003)
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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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