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Pawlenty budget includes variety of items

Some items from Gov. Tim Pawlenty's proposed $34.4 billion, two-year budget:

-- While the total budget would be $55 billion, the state only has control over $34.4 billion. Much of the rest is federal money that just passes through the state budget.

-- Only "emergency" and projects policymakers already have accepted would be included in a bonding proposal -- a measure for borrowing money for construction and similar uses. A crumbling Transportation Building exterior, a prison in Oak Park Heights and the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center would be funded.

-- Continuing a multi-year effort to end homelessness in the state would get $44 million.

-- Keeping up efforts to prepare for a pandemic flu event would cost $22 million.

-- Rural Minnesota's Job Opportunities Building Zone program would get a $500,000 boost.

-- A $6 million tax credit would help fund new business loans.

-- Technology improvements, including increasing security on the state's computer systems, would cost $213 million.

-- Budget reserves would increase about $50 million to prepare for possible economic problems or unplanned costs.

-- Improving the computer system that allows public safety personnel to track criminals would cost $16 million.

-- Of the nearly $2.2 billion surplus, which is scattered through the budget, about 34 percent would be spent on public education, 18 percent on higher education and 12 percent on tax relief.

-- Pawlenty says that under his plan, the state's budget will be balanced through at least 2011.

Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.