The final week of the Legislative session is underway with no agreement in sight for erasing the state’s $4.6 billion budget deficit.
But Governor Tim Pawlenty tried to jump start the negotiations today (Monday) by partially pulling back on one of his key budget provisions, and agreeing to two others offered by Democrats. The Republican governor opposes tax increases, and Democrats oppose Pawlenty’s plan to borrow nearly $1 billion against future state revenue. But now the governor says he’s willing to reduce that borrowing by half. In a letter to House and Senate leaders, Pawlenty said he was trying to help facilitate a budget agreement.
In the spirit of compromise, Pawlenty also wrote that he would reluctantly agree with the Senate’s position to not provide funding for the state’s budget reserve. The governor had wanted $250 million. He also accepted the House position on delayed payments to school districts. In total, Pawlenty said the the proposals would generate $1 billion in revenue, which is the same amount contained in a tax bill he vetoed early Saturday morning.
Democrats are not embracing the offer. House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher, DFL-Minneapolis, said the governor’s letter is a compromise in word only, and not a reasonable plan.
Update: Here’s Pawlenty’s letter to lawmakers.