DFL releases budget recomendations

Senate DFL leadership released their proposals for the state budget on Thursday, calling for a 7 percent across-the-board cut in state spending each of the next two bienniums. The state faces a nearly $6.4 billion budget deficit in 2010-11, according to the Office of Management and Budget, though federal stimulus funding did supply about $1.8 billion in relief to the state. Senate Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller, DFL- Minneapolis, said the budget proposal is more fair than Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s proposed budget from January, which recommended increased funding for K-12 education in 2010-11. “This is such a deep hole,” Pogemiller said. “This is really a serious financial situation …. Share the sacrifice to all sectors of the economy, then you can have lower budget reductions because everybody is sharing. ” Pogemiller said over the next four years, the DFL’s plan will balance the budget, with 54 percent of the relief coming in the form of spending cuts, and 46 percent in the form of new revenue, which includes increased “high-income” taxes. Pawlenty has pledged to support proposals to raise taxes. Under the DFL’s plan, higher education’s 7 percent cut would be smaller than Pawlenty’s proposed cut of almost 10 percent. That cut would have reduced the University of Minnesota’s state support by $151 million over the next two years. Pogemiller did concede that the University will have to take a cut under this proposal. “But with the federal Pell money coming [from the stimulus package], we think we can really protect financial aid parts of all of this,” he said. Pawlenty said last week that he will release a revised budget proposal within a few weeks of the March 3 budget forecast announcement.