From our friends at the Minnesota Budget Project’s Budget Bites blog comes word that the Minnesota Senate under Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller has started to roll out its budget plan to counter Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s proposal to deal with a nearly $1 billion budget deficit.
Senate Finance Committee members on Monday laid out details of budget proposals covering state funding for Higher Education, Judiciary, Environment, Energy and Natural Resources, Agriculture and Veterans Affairs.
The highlights of the Senate DFL proposals include:
* A $48 million reduction in higher education funding, compared with $53 million in Pawlenty’s proposal. The main difference seems to be on state financial aid programs.
* $19 million in cuts to the environment, energy and natural resources budget, compared with $15 million in cuts from Pawlenty. The Governor wants accounting shifts, the Senate insists on real cuts.
* $18 million in cuts to the judiciary budget, compared with $19 million in cuts from Pawlenty.
* $5.7 million in cuts to agriculture and veterans affairs, compared with $8 million from Pawlenty. The Senate would delay ethanol subsidy payments.
While these proposals would seem to cover a lot of ground, if you add up the cuts, it’s less than $100 million out of a $1 billion deficit.
So what’s left? State government, K-12 education and Health and Human Services are the main areas. Taken together, they make up almost two-thirds of the state’s overall budget.
Pawlenty wants a “global” budget solution that addresses all areas of state government and taxes at once, so he can give it the thumbs-up or thumbs-down (Hint: it gets a thumbs-down if there are any revenue increases).
Pogemiller and Senate DFLers want to back Republicans into voting for enough of the overall state budget early on that the remainder of the session becomes an argument about protecting kids, the sick and the elderly versus protecting the rich.
It’s the same dance we’ve seen for the last three years, and we’ll probably end up with similar results, especially in an election year.