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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.

In a report called <i>Tough Choices Today for a Better Future Tomorrow,</i> Pawlenty proposed a 2004-2005 budget of more than $28 billion, an increase of 3.8% -- or $1 billion more than the current two-year budget that ends in June. Pawlenty committed himself to no tax increases during his gubernatorial campaign and stood by that pledge even after a new economic forecast suggested the deficit was nearly double what was expected. He said the deficit offered a chance to rethink the way Minnesota government is funded. Overall, elementary and secondary education is one of the few areas that would see spending increases, but the impact on individual districts will vary and some may see decreases. Criminal justice also would get a slight bump in spending. Nearly everything else takes a hit. ( 02/19/2003)
Governor Tim Pawlenty is proposing the largest budget in Minnesota history which seeks to wipe out a $4.2 billion dollar deficit without raising taxes. ( 02/19/2003)
Gov. Tim Pawlenty has released a budget proposal that erases a projected $4.2 billion deficit without raising taxes. Gov. Pawlenty's budget would increase state spending by about a billion dollars in the next two years. But it makes deep cuts in the projected growth of health and human service programs, and cuts aid to local governments and higher education. (02/19/2003)
Local government officials across the state say they're concerned that Gov. Tim Pawlenty's budget proposals will lead to cuts in public safety or property tax increases or both. As part of Pawlenty's plan to erase a $4.2 billion deficit projected over the next two years, the governor has suggested cutting state aid to cities and counties. Administration officials say it's a simple matter of spreading the budget burden evenly. (02/19/2003)
When Gov. Tim Pawlenty asked for help balancing the budget, Minnesotans responded with gusto. In just seven weeks, more than 3,700 suggestions bombarded the simple Internet link the administration had set up. Some were serious, others comical. The state suggestion box yielded no magic bullet for shedding the $4.56 billion shortfall, but officials say it's been a useful barometer of public feeling. (02/17/2003)
No more reprieves. No more delays. Reckoning day is here. Rested from a six-day Florida getaway, Gov. Tim Pawlenty returns to deliver a two-year budget plan that contains his remedy for a $4.2 billion projected deficit. Tuesday's announcement - one he put off a week - raises the curtain on a budget debate that all agree will be the most emotionally charged in years. (02/17/2003)
A national expert on tax and budget issues says Gov. Pawlenty is taking an ambitious approach to Minnesota's budget problem. The governor says he'll eliminate a deficit that's about 14 percent of the state budget without raising taxes. An official with the National Conference of State Legislatures on Thursday told Minnesota lawmakers what other states are doing to balance their budgets. Also today, Minnesota business groups released their ideas to balance the budget, and public employee groups aren't happy about it. (02/13/2003)
Local government officials and some lawmakers are objecting to the suggestion that cities are squandering state aid payments on unnecessary services. A report from Republican State Auditor Pat Awada concluded that local government aid could be trimmed by 43 percent without affecting essential programs or prompting local property tax increases. But officials from a cross-section of Minnesota cities told lawmakers on Thursday that the auditor's report doesn't present the full picture. (02/13/2003)
Officials in cities around Minnesota are concerned about a recommendation from the state auditor that local government aid to cities be cut by 42 percent. Some cities depend on the annual state aid to pay for essential services. Auditor Pat Awada claims that LGA money is often used for services she terms non-essential, such as libraries and parks. Other cities say the LGA formula should be reworked to be more fair. (02/11/2003)
If last week's budget medicine was a painful prick of the finger, the next dose might be more like an amputation without anesthesia. On Tuesday of next week, Gov. Tim Pawlenty is set to outline his plan to cut more than $4.2 billion from the budget for 2004 and 2005, without raising taxes. That amounts to about a dollar of every seven in state spending. (02/10/2003)
Iron Range lawmakers say they're considering a lawsuit to block Gov. Pawlenty from taking $49 million from the 21st Century Minerals Fund. They say the money is in a special fund and Pawlenty can't use the money to balance the budget. Members of the Iron Range are just one of many groups who are criticizing Pawlenty's cuts. Ethanol producers say one of the Minnesota plants may close as a result of cuts to the state's ethanol subsidy. Higher education officials and social service agencies say Pawlenty's cuts will also have a negative impact on their agencies. (02/07/2003)
Gov. Tim Pawlenty says he's using his power to cut spending because legislative leaders were unable to agree on budget cuts before Thursday night's deadline. He says he's canceling more than $281 million in state spending. He's also deferring $50 million in sales tax reimbursements for capital equipment purchases, and taking $24 million in the state's reserves. Pawlenty had given legislative leaders until Thursday night to come up with a deal for solving the state's short-term budget problem, but no agreement was reached. Listen to <i>Midday</i> for analysis of the governor's budget cuts, and reaction from legislative leaders. <i>Note: The program's last half-hour is Attorney General John Ashcroft discussing an increase in the terrorism warning status.</i> ( 02/07/2003)
Gov. Tim Pawlenty has used his emergency budget-cutting powers, after lawmakers failed to agree on a short-term budget fix. Pawlenty's cuts affect nearly every area of state government, from education to road projects to legislative TV. The governor says he had little choice, with less than five months left in the fiscal year. (02/07/2003)
Governor Pawlenty outlines unallotments in the current state budget, including more than $50 million cut from higher education and $23 million out of social service funds. He also slices into ethanol funding and an Iron Range minerals program. Midmorning carries the governor's press conference live. ( 02/07/2003)
In his first state of the state address, Governor Tim Pawlenty outlined how he would restructure state government to add new programs without raising taxes. ( 02/07/2003)
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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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