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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.

Minnesota went from record budget surplus under Gov. Jesse Ventura to record budget shortfall under new Gov. Tim Pawlenty in a few years. How did it happen? (03/12/2003)
University of Minnesota President Robert Bruininks told lawmakers he worries that budget cuts and tuition hikes may drive off top students and faculty. Bruininks, speaking to the House Higher Education Finance Committee on Wednesday, said if Gov. Tim Pawlenty's 2004-05 budget proposal holds, Minnesota could see a "brain drain" of talented students to other states. The governor is proposing $197.9 million in budget cuts to the university over two years, according to university calculations, potentially pushing medical school tuition "over market rates," Bruininks said. ( 03/10/2003)
County commissioners and other local leaders are looking for ways to cope with the funding cuts in Gov. Tim Pawlenty's budget. The governor's spending plan calls for cuts in many programs to fill a $4.2 billion shortfall. As debate over the proposal heats up, some officials are questioning the long-term affects, especially in social programs. (03/10/2003)
A proposal to freeze all public employee salaries for two years got its first legislative hearing on Friday. Sen. Tom Neuville says his bill won't reduce the state's projected $4.2 billion. But he says it will help control costs for the state, cities, counties and school districts. The idea has sparked a wave of opposition from unions, teachers, mayors and other groups. (03/07/2003)
As lawmakers debate Gov. Pawlenty's budget proposal, the issue of property taxes is becoming a major focus. DFL lawmakers say the governor's budget would result in significant local property tax increases. They say that violates the spirit of the no-tax-increase pledge on which Gov. Pawlenty campaigned. Pawlenty says his pledge didn't apply to property taxes. He says property taxes are going up with or without his budget. (03/05/2003)
State finance officials say Minnesota's deficit is projected to grow slightly, by an additional $25 million over the next two years. A new revenue forecast bumps up the size of the deficit to $4.23 billion through June 2005. Gov. Tim Pawlenty says the new numbers don't change his commitment to balance the budget without raising taxes. (02/27/2003)
Gov. Tim Pawlenty took his budget proposal on the road Wednesday. The governor toured four northern Minnesota communities to promote his plan to fix the state's $4.2 billion budget deficit. At a community forum in International Falls, Pawlenty got a favorable response for his plan to create tax free-zones to promote business. But he also heard concerns over cuts to social programs and state aid to cities and counties. (02/27/2003)
Most Minnesotans are ready to accept the level of spending cuts outlined in Gov. Tim Pawlenty's budget plan and only a minority support higher state taxes, according to a poll released Monday. Three out of five Minnesota voters surveyed for the St. Paul Pioneer Press-Minnesota Public Radio poll said the Republican governor plans to cut the right amount from the state budget, and only about one-fourth think he should consider raising taxes to plug a $4.2 billion budget gap. ( 02/24/2003)
To all those playing along at home with the state's budget games, get ready for more fun. Things could get far worse - or better - this week. Tune in Thursday to find out which. In an unfortunate but long-standing case of bad timing, Gov. Tim Pawlenty had to produce his budget for the next two years before he got the best forecast of the state's finances in upcoming years. Past governors have faced the same conundrum. (02/24/2003)
A new poll shows most Minnesotans are ready to accept the level of spending reductions outlined in Gov. Tim Pawlenty's budget plan. Last week, Pawlenty released a deficit-reduction package that pruned back planned spending by almost $3 billion and offered no new tax increases. But the survey, conducted for Minnesota Public Radio and the St. Paul Pioneer Press, also shows that majorities of respondents expect the cutbacks to fall hard on some Minnesotans. (02/24/2003)
Tucked into Gov. Tim Pawlenty's $4.2 billion deficit-reduction package is a proposal to freeze the wages of all public employees. The freeze would affect not just state workers, but everyone on the public payroll -- police, county health workers, teachers, and even professors in the state colleges and universities system. Administration officials say the plan is a tool to keep a lid on spending during difficult budget times. But union officials say the plan erodes the collective bargaining process. (02/21/2003)
City leaders across Minnesota are gearing up for a fight. They're upset over Gov. Tim Pawlenty's plan to fix the state's $4.2 billion budget deficit. The plan would cut state assistance to cities and counties by more than 20 percent. The governor says those cuts won't be any more than five percent the first year. City leaders say he's wrong. They fear they'll have to cut essential services like police and fire protection. (02/21/2003)
One day after the release of Gov. Pawlenty's budget, some people affected by the governor's proposed cuts are calling for tax increases. The governor and many Republican lawmakers say they're committed to balancing the budget without raising taxes. The debate over the state's level of taxes and spending is only beginning. (02/19/2003)
Gov. Tim Pawlenty is accusing local government officials of scare-mongering in order to preserve their state funding. As part of a $4.2 billion deficit-reduction package, Pawlenty suggested cutting aid to cities and counties by more than 20 percent. The governor says said local officials are exaggerating the impact those reductions might have. But supporters of the state aid say Pawlenty isn't telling the complete story. (02/19/2003)
As a potential war looms and Minnesota's budget faces a huge deficit, Sen. Mark Dayton talks with Gary Eichten about current events, and what Minnesotans need to focus on in times of financial trouble. ( 02/19/2003)
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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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