Saturday, May 8, 2010

Pawlenty orders planning for halt in services

The Democrats, along with the state Supreme Court in Minnesota, have successfully stopped the spending cuts Gov. Pawlenty made last summer to help close the state's budget gap. Now the Democrats want tax increases instead of the spending cuts proposed. Big Government is still alive in Minnesota.

Pawlenty's cabinet was to meet later in the day to discuss the plans for temporarily shutting down parts of government.

The scrambling follows a state Supreme Court ruling that Pawlenty overstepped his authority in making budget cuts on his own last summer after negotiations with the Legislature reached an impasse. That ruling directly affected only a sliver of his $2.7 billion cuts, but state leaders worry that other groups may sue to overturn their cuts as well.

That hasn't happened in the two days since the ruling, and the state's biggest cities—Minneapolis and St. Paul—said they didn't plan to sue to restore aid cuts. But Pawlenty said it was necessary to plan for the worst.

Pawlenty has asked lawmakers to pass a bill ratifying last year's cuts, which included $1.8 billion in delayed school aid checks. Legislative leaders met with him twice on Thursday and both times emerged to describe the situation as a fiscal crisis.

But Democratic leaders gave little indication that they would simply sign off on the cuts of last year. Senate Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller, a Minneapolis Democrat, said Thursday that the governor's cuts don't have enough support in the Legislature to pass.

Pawlenty and Republican leaders say they won't agree to tax increases to close the gap.

It wasn't clear whether Pawlenty had the authority to shut off services on his own. Asked about that, budget commissioner Tom Hanson said, "The question is how do we pay for things when we don't have money. Managing money is about managing risk and having contingency plans in place."

Hanson said the administration is also investigating the possibility of short-term borrowing if necessary.
Read article here.

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