Supplemental budget cuts $1 billion state deficit by a third

Supplemental budget cuts $1 billion state deficit by a third

Both houses of the Legislature voted today to pass a supplemental budget that cuts about $312 million in state spending. Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who reached an agreement with legislators over the weekend, is expected to sign the bill. That leaves the remainder of the $1 billion budget deficit, which the legislature will tackle when it considers the budgets for Health and Human Services and K-12 education after the Easter recess.

The heaviest cuts in the supplemental budget are from aid to cities and counties and from higher education.

The state's judicial branch will also take a $9.6 million cut. Asked for comment on the cuts, Supreme Court Chief Justice Eric Magnuson, who lobbied heavily against more severe cuts to the judiciary, issued a temperate statement: "We understand the difficult issues facing the legislature, and we appreciate their recognition of the critical importance of the justice system to all Minnesotans."

The Department of Corrections budget will drop by $7 million. Shari Burt, a department spokeswoman, said the agency will find a way to work within the legislatures budget.

"We're a large agency with a lot of facilities, so we need to look at how we can make these reductions without negatively impacting public safety," she said.

Some programs targeted for cuts by the governor escaped budget pain today, however, including the Minnesota Film and TV Board.

"It was such a relief when I found out today," said Film Board Director Lucinda Winter. "We thought we were going to be eliminated. Now we can go forward for another year."

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