Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.
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ST. PAUL -- Gov. Tim Pawlenty has started his quest to cut billions of dollars from state government spending if budget negotiations fail in the legislative session's final four days. While saying he remains open to compromise with DFL leaders, the Republican governor said he will use his line-item veto power and other authority to set a new state budget if the Legislature won't work with him "on a reasonable budget solution." "This year, politics as usual around this place is over," Pawlenty declared in a late Thursday afternoon announcement. "There will be no special session.
ST. PAUL -- The Minnesota legislative session could come to a smooth end if the Democratic-controlled Legislature and Republican governor could ag-ree on a way to raise $1 billion. There is no sign that is about to happen. On Tuesday night, the costliest spending bills and revenue to fund them remained stumbling bl-ocks to ending this year's session by Monday's constitutional deadline. Legislative leaders were determined to finish the outstanding budget bills -- even without Gov.
Minnesota legislators moved Monday night to make sure state agencies can spend money even if lawmakers do not agree on a budget. Senators passed the measure 45-19,with Democrats favoring it and Republicans generally opposed.
ST. PAUL -- Annette and Brian Swanson's son has been missing for almost a year, but on Thursday they paused in their search to watch a ceremony designed to help other Minnesotans. The couple and their daughter, Jamine, unsuccessfully tried to hold back tears as Gov. Tim Pawlenty signed a bill forcing law enforcement agencies to quickly act on reports of missing young adults. "This is a bittersweet moment for us," Annette Swanson said.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota's economic development programs fall victim to the state budget deficit. "We cut, we cut, we cut," Rep. Tom Rukavina, DFL-Virginia, said. "We can't create jobs when we are cutting, but we did the best that we could. ... I wish I had a lot better bill, but I had to cut." The Senate voted to cut economic development funding 38-28 Monday. The House did the same on Tuesday, 74-57. In both cases, some Democrats joined Republicans in opposing the measure.
The Minnesota Senate and House needed little time to approve a $4.3 billion transportation funding compromise. The Monday votes keep transportation just below current spending, and do not cut State Patrol operations. The House approved the measure 103-30; senators followed with a 63-4 tally. House Minority Leader Marty Seifert, R-Marshall, said he expects Gov. Tim Pawlenty to sign the measure. "This transportation bill squarely addresses the difficult economic times we are facing in Minnesota," said Rep. Bernie Lieder, DFL-Crookston, House transportation finance chairman.
ST. PAUL -- What to do about taxes is the most controversial of many controversial money issues in the Minnesota Legislature and now the House and Senate have passed different plans. The House barely passed its measure Saturday night, a day after senators adopted their version on another close vote. Negotiations begin soon on a compromise bill, but the governor says he doesn't like many of the provisions in either plan. Among the hottest issues is how tax proposals affect businesses.
ST. PAUL -- Higher fees keep could keep spending on outdoors programs from deeper funding cuts. Even with millions of dollars in fee increases, some budgets may shrink rapidly, Minnesota legislators say. For instance, state tax money headed to the Pollution Control Agency would shrink by 19 percent under a funding plan senators ap-proved Th-ursday 49-15. And the Department of Natural Resources would get 5 percent less state funding. To help compensate, senators approved increasing fees $5 million, slightly less than Gov.