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Don Davis, Forum News Service, Published May 04 2010

Pawlenty suggests more local cuts

ST. PAUL -- Gov. Tim Pawlenty proposes cutting more local government aids and health programs for the poor because it looks like $408 million federal funds will not be available.

Pawlenty and the House had counted on the $408 million in their budget proposals, but the latest information out of Washington indicates the money will not be available by the time lawmakers have to adjourn for the year, if it ever is available.

The Republican governor said the new local aid cuts would be $175 million, but he did not have exact figures available and he could not say how they would be spread out. Those are payments cities and counties had expected from the state.

On top of local aids that cities and counties across the state had expected, Pawlenty proposed chopping $65 million from the Douglas J. Johnson Trust Fund, a pot of money designed to help the Iron Range.

The Legislature and Pawlenty already have agreed to $313 million in cuts.

Pawlenty called the Democratic-controlled Legislature "pathetic" because it has cut only about a third of the $1 billion budget deficit the state faced in early March.

House Majority Leader Tony Sertich, DFL-Chisholm, said that a person is not rational if he keeps asking for the same budget cuts, even after they have been rejected. That is just what he and Senate Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller, DFL-Minneapolis, said Pawlenty has done.

Davis reports for Forum Communications Co.