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Pawlenty suggests 9 percent budget hike

ST. PAUL - Gov. Tim Pawlenty suggests increasing Minnesota's two-year budget 9.3 percent, to $34.5 billion, while cutting local property taxes.

As always, education gets the biggest dollar amount of his budget proposal, but veterans and military programs would see the biggest percentage increase, topping 50 percent. Health and human services programs would increase nearly 16 percent in one of the other biggest spending areas.

The governor already had announced most proposals he included in the budget that he released this morning. However, he unveiled a property tax relief proposal that would lower the tax $150 million over the two years.

As part of the property tax cuts, he would impose a limit on about 60 cities as to how much they can raises taxes. It was not immediately clear how many cities would be capped, although Duluth would be one. Even with the cap, cities would be allowed to increase property taxes at the inflation rate as well as to handle population growth.

The veterans spending increase came in a $75 million proposal that would give tax breaks to veterans and active-duty military personnel.

House and Senate budget plans are not expected until late next month, but they will be based on what the governor proposed.

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.