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Budget cuts must be fair to all sectors

The budget battle continues at the Minnesota Legislature as hearings started this week.

Current estimates show a state budget deficit of about $5 billion. However, this budget deficit could grow to $7 billion by the time of the next estimate in March.

Minnesota cities are currently getting about $368 million in local government aid, the same amount they were getting nearly a decade ago. Gov. Tim Pawlenty is proposing a 25 percent cut in LGA to help balance the budget.

Certainly, cities in west central Minnesota are concerned about the prospect of LGA cuts. Willmar and other cities are putting some project on hold until the LGA funding question is settled.

A suburban resident, Gov. Pawlenty is not a fan of LGA since Twin Cities suburbs do not qualify for much LGA aid. Thus, Greater Minnesota cities, Minneapolis and St Paul are taking the brunt of the LGA cuts.

Now all Minnesotans are going to have to share in the pain during the next budget cycle. We understand that, but that includes the governor as well.

The time has come for the governor to lead by example. While the Legislature started holding hearings on the budget and LGA cuts this week, the governor was traveling again outside the state to Europe.

This budget crisis is a significant challenge. The budget fix should not arbitrarily affect one part of Minnesota (city LGA cuts of 25 percent), while state agencies face single-digit (5 percent) cuts.

Minnesota's budget solution will include cuts, but they should be as equitable as possible for all areas of the state.