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Pawlenty seeks support from local business leaders for budget proposal

WILLMAR -- Gov. Tim Pawlenty encouraged Willmar business leaders Tuesday to tell legislators to support a budget plan that will help businesses survive the economic crisis.

During an early morning talk to the Willmar Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce Pawlenty said most legislators don't have a background in private sector business and don't know what it takes to be an entrepreneur.

His plan to reduce taxes for businesses would help businesses grow and create jobs, he said.

Minnesota's high tax ranking doesn't make it a "job friendly state," said Pawlenty.

He also said government needs to do what many businesses are now doing, including freezing wages and giving financial rewards for performance and not simply longevity.

Pawlenty defended his proposal to reduce the level of increased funding to the Department of Human Services. He said he'll increase human service funding by 10 percent from the last biennium, which is half of what the department was on course to receive.

Pawlenty said the state's current budget situation is not good and he fears the March budget forecast will show the deficit getting even worse.

The economic challenges will be difficult, but he said Minnesota will get through it by making "difficult decisions" to reduce expenditures while maintaining or increasing funding for priori-ties, like schools.

The state's share of the federal stimulus package will help ease some of the state's financial problems, and Pawlenty said Minnesota will take every dollar it has coming to it. But he said he doesn't like some the "strings" that are attached to the funding.

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for 35 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

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