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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.

Live coverage of Gov. Tim Pawlenty addressing the people of Minnesota in his first State of the State address. Charlie Weaver, Pawlenty's chief of staff, said the Republican governor's message would be upbeat, touching on education, criminal justice, roads and jobs. He says the speech will be an opportunity for Minnesotans to get to know Pawlenty better. Gary Eichten, in the MPR studios, talks with MPR political editor Mike Mulcahy at the Capitol. Also, MPR political reporters get key legislators' reactions to the speech. ( 02/06/2003)
Gov. Tim Pawlenty told lawmakers on Wednesday that he's prepared to cut spending on Friday if legislative leaders don't reach a budget deal. The House and Senate haven't agreed on how to eliminate a projected $356 million deficit in the current fiscal year. If Pawlenty uses his authority to cut spending unilaterally, the cuts could include school aid to Minneapolis and St. Paul, ethanol subsidies and an Iron Range development fund. (02/05/2003)
Legislative leaders have until Friday to agree on a short-term budget deal for this fiscal year, or Gov. Tim Pawlenty says he'll cut spending on his own. House and Senate leaders say they hope it doesn't come to that. ( 02/04/2003)
With Gov. Tim Pawlenty promising to correct Minnesota's short-term budget problem "one way or the other" this week, the Senate and House made progress Monday toward a compromise. Legislative leaders adopted a $461 million spending reduction target to cure a $356 million projected shortfall and set aside $105 million more in case the state's economy falters before the fiscal year ends in June. (02/04/2003)
Gov. Jesse Ventura threatened it, but never pulled the trigger. Gov. Arne Carlson was ready for it, but was saved by an improving economy. Gov. Rudy Perpich used it, but sparingly. Gov. Al Quie did it too, but he suffered serious political damage. Unallotment, an awkward word used to describe the governor's power to cut spending in times of fiscal crisis without consent from the Legislature, is creeping back into the vocabulary at the Capitol. (01/31/2003)
Governor Pawlenty had tough words for Senate Democrats when he called legislative leaders to his office to talk about patching the hole in the state budget. Before the meeting Pawlenty said the bill passed by the Senate is "not acceptable." A conference committee is working out differences between the House and Senate bills. ( 01/30/2003)
The Minnesota House on Monday evening passed its version of a short-term budget fix. The Republican-sponsored bill would erase a projected $356 million deficit in the current fiscal year, and leave a financial cushion in case the state's economy worsens. The plan must now be reconciled with a DFL-sponsored Senate plan. DFL leaders say House Republicans moved too quickly to cut programs without considering the impact of the cuts. (01/28/2003)
The House is set to take up a budget-balancing plan Monday that preserves most of the state's ethanol payments. Gov. Tim Pawlenty's suggestion that the subsidies should be eliminated to balance the current budget deficit met with cries of protest from farmers and producers of the corn-based fuel. Critics of the program say ethanol producers would survive without state assistance, but supporters say profits vary from year to year and plant to plant. (01/26/2003)
The House Ways and Means Committee on Thursday night approved a budget-balancing plan that tracks closely with the priorities outlined by Gov. Tim Pawlenty. The $468 million deficit-reduction package now heads to the House floor where the Republican majority anticipates easy passage. But provisions of the plan have upset state employees unions and advocates for the state's steel industry. (01/24/2003)
The Minnesota Senate has passed a short-term budget fix. The bill eliminates a projected $356 million deficit in the current fiscal year, and leaves a small financial cushion in case the state's revenues decline further. The bill relies more heavily on accounting shifts and makes fewer cuts than Gov. Tim Pawlenty's proposal. (01/23/2003)
The Legislature will need to maintain its hurried pace to meet an early February deadline Gov. Tim Pawlenty set Tuesday for lawmakers to bite off a $356 million chunk of a $4.56 billion budget problem. In a letter to legislators, Pawlenty called for "prompt and bold leadership" and warned that they must reach agreement by the first week in February or he "will be left with no choice but to unallot." (01/21/2003)
Gov. Tim Pawlenty's short-term budget fix is moving quickly through the Legislature, but not without some adjustments. House Republicans oppose Pawlenty's proposed ethanol cuts, while Senate Democrats want to restore several proposed cuts, including ethanol and an Iron Range fund. Pawlenty says he worries some lawmakers may not grasp the magnitude of the deficit Minnesota is facing. (01/20/2003)
Budget work continues at a fast pace at the state Capitol. Lawmakers hopes to finish work in the next week or two on plans for covering the projected $356 million deficit for the fiscal year that ends in June. Gov. Pawlenty has proposed a combination of cuts and one-time money to cover the gap. Several special interest groups told House members on Thursday that Pawlenty's proposals will have a dramatic impact on the poor. Meanwhile, a key lawmaker in the Senate Health, Family Security and Corrections Budget division proposed an alternative to Pawlenty's plan. (01/16/2003)
In a sign of trying times to come, key lawmakers on Thursday resisted the first major attempt to solve the state's budget problems, denouncing Gov. Tim Pawlenty's proposal to eliminate $26.8 million in ethanol subsidies this year. (01/16/2003)
Cities large and small are more concerned than ever about how to pay for services. The slow economy has reduced income. The state is likely to cut local government aid in the upcoming budget cycle. ( 01/16/2003)
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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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