Pawlenty’s big cuts include U

The Legislature must now craft a more balanced, even-handed budget.

In his last annual State of the State address, Gov. Tim Pawlenty deployed his self-deprecating, straightforward style to urge the assembled legislators to focus on creating jobs. To that end, Pawlenty renewed his call for reductions in corporate income and capital gains taxes and credits for research and small business investment. Though this fresh focus on jobs was welcome, PawlentyâÄôs proposals are already stale. He has long defined cutting taxes as the answer to most problems faced by the state, in good times and bad. Meanwhile, new and unprecedented challenges continue to mount. To pay for these tax cuts on top of a $1.2 billion budget gap, Pawlenty warned of âÄúdramatic and painfulâÄù budget reductions; he declined to use the annual addressâÄôs bully pulpit to prioritize programs that might face the ax. Pawlenty addressed these programs Monday at a press conference and outlined his plan, which apparently includes cutting $350 million from health services, $250 million in local government aid and almost $50 million from higher education âÄî three-quarters of which hit the University of Minnesota. Pawlenty lamented that he could not take more, citing federal stimulus rules that prohibit cutting college funding below 2006 levels. State tax cuts and structural deficits should not be financed primarily by students, local property taxpayers and hospitals. A more sensible solution would involve targeted cuts with some additional revenues from higher earners or user fees. The Legislature must now exercise its authority to craft a better budget that can stare down PawlentyâÄôs veto threats.