As the Minnesota House of Representatives and Minnesota Senate take up budget bills that would trim about $312-314 million of the $1 billion deficit remaining in this current budget cycle, let’s look at the effect their bills, and what Gov. Tim Pawlenty had proposed in his budget, would have in future years.
And on a superficial level, the House, Senate and Pawlenty’s requests have some similarities.
The House bill cuts $312 million in spending through June of 2011, when the next budget cycle begins. The Senate bill would cut $314 million from overall, while Pawlenty’s budget proposal cuts a bit more — about $464 million — largely through deeper cuts in state aid to cities and counties than the DFL-controlled Legislature is willing to allow.
Where the lines start to diverge sharply, however, is in the “tails” of the budget bills: the proposed effect on future budgets that actions taken today would have.
Pawlenty’s budget proposal envisions that his $464 million in proposed cuts, largely to the current higher education, economic development, state government and local government aid areas of the budget, would extend and expand through the 2012-2013 budget cycle, trimming almost $1.5 billion more from the state’s next budget.
The House of Representatives, on the other hand, envisions that its $312 million in proposed cuts in this budget, largely to local government aid, higher education, ethanol subsidies, public safety and state government, would translate into $466 million more in cuts in the next two years.
And the Senate bill’s $314 million in proposed cuts mainly to local government aid, higher education, public safety, state government and economic development would mean those areas would be cut $494 million more in the 2012-2013 budget.
That’s part of the reason why the legal arguments about Pawlenty’s unallotment actions last year are intensifying. Pawlenty’s budget proposal assumes the Legislature ratifies his unallotment decisions, locking in more cuts in the following years. But DFL lawmakers reject Pawlenty’s unalottment authority and won’t accept that those cuts are set in stone.
With the state’s February economic forecast predicting a state budget deficit of $5.7 billion for the 2012-2013 budget cycle — up $363 million from predictions last November despite improvements to the economy — it’s clear something’s got to give soon, either on taxes or on spending, or on both.
It’s also clear that this year’s Legislature has shown little sign of trying to answer that bigger question so far.