Minnesota Legislature reaching final hours to balance budget


Minnesota lawmakers are running out of time to balance the budget, facing a mandatory midnight adjournment tonight. Compromises are hard to come by as Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty refuses to increase any taxes or add new revenue while Democrats are sticking hard to bills they say provide essential services to the state's residents.

After Pawlenty vetoes a $1 billion tax increase and funding for health care, the DFL attempted to override his vote. Their attempt wasn't successful, falling short by just a few votes.

Lawmakers are trying to balance a budget with a $3 billion shortfall.

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Lawmakers have passed $34 billion in spending over the next two years, when the state expects to collect $31 billion in revenue. Pawlenty wants to close most of that gap with spending cuts and delayed school aid payments. DFLers insist on a permanent tax increase or some other form of new revenue to prevent damaging cuts.

If the governor and Legislature fail to balance the budget by midnight, Pawlenty has said he will erase the red ink on his own with vetoes and unilateral cuts called "unallotments."

It appears all but certain that he will have to make the cuts on his own.