State budget cuts — Round 1

The cuts are made — this first round, at least.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty this afternoon announced the array of trims he’s making to patch the $426 million hole in the state’s current budget biennium, which ends June 30.  (Way, way bigger cuts will have to be made to plug the $5 billion hole in the next two-year budget.)

Responses are beginning to trickle in: St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman says the city will have to live with the $5.6 million in cuts; the Taxpayers League of Minnesota says the cuts are good and a step in the right direction.

Pawlenty said he’s applying the $155 million state reserve to the deficit and making $271 million in cuts, including these:

• $66 million in local aids and credits to cities
• $44 million in local aids and credits to counties
• $73 million in human services spending
• $40 million in appropriations to the University of Minnesota and the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities
• $40 million from a 10 percent reduction in most state agency unexpended operating budgets
• $4 million from the unspent balance in the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency Fund
• $2.2 million in a voluntary reduction of the Legislature’s unexpended funds
• $1.5 million from the 21st Century Minerals Account
• $700,000 from the Minnesota Investment Fund

The local government aid cuts include $44 million in county aid and $66 million in city aid.

Mayor Coleman said that the cuts are “at least a partial realization [by the governor] that the success of cities and our ability to provide basic services is the backbone of our economy and our quality of life in Minnesota. I appreciate that the Governor took the time to meet with us on this issue.”

Nevertheless, he said, “These cuts are painful, and force Saint Paul to make more tough choices among the services we provide. …. We will rise to this challenge and overcome it.”

Phil Krinkie, president of the Taxpayers League of Minnesota, praised Pawlenty.

“I want to applaud the Governor for making the right decision and taking action based on our state’s current economic situation,” said  “This is just the first step in addressing our state deficit and … and we believe he is heading in the right direction.”

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