Governor’s $160 million slice saves all but small piece of U pie

Amy Olson

Although Gov. Ventura sliced $160 million from 40 legislative provisions with his line-item veto power, the University escaped relatively unscathed with only $450,000 in cuts.
The governor cut $250,000 from the lottery fund that would have financed gambling-addiction research at the University, said Donna Peterson, director of the Office of State Relations. Ventura also cut $200,000 from a water quality cooperative project run by the University’s Center for Rural Development.
The governor cut the funding for gambling research because he thought there was already enough research being conducted, said his spokesman Paul Moore. Ventura also cut funding for the water quality program because he doubted that the University and municipalities could produce a system that would work for the community, Moore added.
Minnesota State Colleges and Universities did not fare as well, however. Ventura axed $11.1 million from the state’s capital bonding bill that would have paid for construction projects on several campuses.
Moore said the governor’s cuts reflect his objection to using state funds for the projects.
But the line-item cuts left some legislators frustrated. Assistant Senate Majority Leader Ember Reichgott Junge, DFL-New Hope, said the governor’s actions broke faith with legislators over the budget agreements Ventura had reached with Senate Majority Leader Roger Moe, DFL- Erskine, and House Speaker Steve Sviggum, R-Kenyon.
Junge said she couldn’t understand why Ventura’s list of vetoes was so long when legislators had worked very hard to reach the agreement.
Moe has suggested that the Legislature attempt to override the vetoes when the House and Senate go back into session next February.
But other legislators applauded the governor’s actions. House Majority Leader Tim Pawlenty, R-Eagan, called Ventura’s cuts a “bold, gutsy move,” adding that it was overdue.
Despite the line-item vetoes, Ventura signed 19 bills into law without vetoes, including a measure to tighten sex-offender registration laws and community notification requirements.