Lawmakers prefer budget polkaST. PAUL – Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s Monday budget-balancing offer did not go as far as Democrats who control the Legislature wanted.
By: Don Davis, Minn. State Capitol Bureau Chief, Forum Communications Company
ST. PAUL – Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s Monday budget-balancing offer did not go as far as Democrats who control the Legislature wanted.
“We were hoping for a fast polka,” House Majority Leader Tony Sertich, DFL-Chisholm, said. “But we are having a slow waltz.”
Pawlenty suggested cutting in half the amount of money he would take from the Health Care Access Fund to balance the budget -- $125 million. That means another $125 million in program cuts would be needed somewhere in the budget.
The governor and legislative leaders are seeking a way to fix a $935 million gap in the state’s two-year, $34 billion budget. They must reach agreement by May 19, and Monday’s Pawlenty offer was the first in what is expected to be an on-going exchange of offers.
Sertich said legislative leaders probably will submit their response today.
Sertich and Assistant Senate Majority Leader Tarryl Clark, DFL-St. Cloud, praised the governor for reducing his use of the health fund, but Clark said leaders will insist that he not touch the fund for balancing the budget.
“It’s a step forward,” she said. “There is a long ways to go.”