Sponsored By
An organization or individual has paid for the creation of this work but did not approve or review it.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Budget is key factor in talks

ST. PAUL - Minnesota's budget negotiators appeared to be on a merry-go-round Thursday. Senate Democrats and Gov. Tim Pawlenty, with House Republicans siding with him, went round and round during the third day of public budget talks. Republicans i...

ST. PAUL - Minnesota's budget negotiators appeared to be on a merry-go-round Thursday.

Senate Democrats and Gov. Tim Pawlenty, with House Republicans siding with him, went round and round during the third day of public budget talks.

Republicans insisted legislative leaders and the governor need to decide how much money will be available before discussing where it would be spent. Democrats claimed if an agreement could be reached on how much to spend on state-run health programs the rest of the budget would fall into place.

The two sides repeating those positions dominated the half-hour negotiating session.

Human Services Commissioner Kevin Goodno gave Sen. Linda Berglin, DFL-Minneapolis, a proposal to bridge the two sides' health and human services gap, but no agreements were reached.

ADVERTISEMENT

Goodno said he hears "mixed signals" from senators on Pawlenty's proposal to put a 75-cent-a-pack fee on cigarettes.

Berglin said senators' concern is that while the cigarette money originally would go into health accounts, funds are removed from health programs to help public education, so there is little net gain for health.

The talks came on the third day of a special legislative session called to wrap up a $30 billion, two-year budget.

The House met briefly Thursday and will return for a routine session this morning before leaving for the Memorial Day weekend. Senators also plan a short meeting today.

The full House is to meet Tuesday and Friday next week, with House-Senate committees working on taxes and health, agriculture, environment, economic development and education budgets on most days.

In Rochester, Pawlenty signed a bill to spend $2.8 million on higher education. It is the biggest budget bill legislators passed in their regular session, which ended at midnight Monday.

Pawlenty said the higher education bill will hold down tuition, which has increased by at least 10 percent in most recent years.

The Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system will get 8.5 percent more state money and the University of Minnesota will pull in 9.9 percent more.

ADVERTISEMENT

Readers can reach Forum reporter Don Davis at (651) 290-0707

What To Read Next
Get Local

ADVERTISEMENT