Governor Pawlenty’s spokesman, Brian McClung, said it’s unlikely that Pawlenty will unilaterally cut any state spending between now and the 2010 Legislative Session which begins in February. McClung said any cuts through the process known as unallotment are unlikely now that Pawlenty decided against withholding $437 million in aid payments to cities and counties:
“The governor has said all along that his preference is to work with the Legislature to resolve the budget deficit. The governor is not intending to use his unallotment authority between now and the state of the legislative session barring any unforeseen circustances.”
One major factor could be the two lawsuits challenging Gov. Pawlenty’s unallotment authority. A Ramsey County District Court judge is currently considering two lawsuits that argue Pawlenty exceeded his authority when he slashed $2.7 billion on his own in July.
As for the current budget shortfall, McClung reitterated Pawlenty’s call for state lawmakers to begin holding committee hearings to address the state’s $1.2 billion budget deficit. Pawlenty hopes lawmakers can address the budget deficit immediately when they return to the State Capitol in February.
Meanwhile, city officials are breathing a sigh of relief. Gary Carlson, a lobbyist with the League of Minnesota Cities, said he’s pleased that Pawlenty didn’t cut state aid to cities. He is, however, worried the cuts will come next year:
“His announcement today just simply means that we have a $1.2 billion deficit that’s going to have to be addressed by the Legislature when they convene in February. We’re not out of the woods yet by any meants but at least we have a bit of certainty as we set our local budgets for the 2010 year.”
Lawmakers return for the 2010 session on February 4th.