Does it ever seem to you like you’ve heard all the news before about the state budget quagmire? Much of the talk surrounding the present situation focuses on “the future.” So it seems like a good time to go into the News Cut Wayback Machine. Setting: Fourth Monday in January 2003.
Here’s the MPR newscast scripts from that date:
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House DFLers are calling a Republican budget balancing plan too harsh to the state’s most vulnerable. The House is scheduled to begin debate today
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Governor Pawlenty continued his tour of greater Minnesota today to promote tax-free zones. Pawlenty and members of the Minnesota House have offered the plan as a way to stimulate business and job creation. Pawlenty told an audience in Luverne that tax-free zones are the “mother of all economic development incentives.” He says a particular area or collaboration of counties would be encouraged to come together and develop regional or theme-based tax-free zones.
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Senate Republicans are proposing a two-year pay freeze for all public sector employees in Minnesota to help reduce the state deficit. They say keeping salaries constant could produce one billion dollars or more in savings. The plan would affect state workers as well as employees in cities, counties, school districts and universities. State allowances to all government entities would be reduced to account for the lack of pay raises. By the Senate GOP’s estimate, Minnesota has 350-thousand public sector employees. Senate Minority Leader Dick Day of Owatonna says a freeze is a more compassionate way to cut costs than layoffs. But he won’t guarantee that everyone would keep their job.
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Governor Pawlenty says he’d prefer to continue full subsidies for Minnesota’s ethanol industry — but the state’s budget crisis will force tough choices. The governor spoke in Luverne yesterday. His short-term deficit reduction plan includes a proposal to eliminate almost 27 (m) million dollars in subsidies to ethanol plants. But Pawlenty says most ethanol facilities will continue to be profitable even without the subsidies. On a tour to support his plan for out-state tax-free zones, Pawlenty said he’s open to the legislature reinstating some of the ethanol subsidy reductions in his budget proposal — as long as lawmakers find the money to solve the budget deficit somewhere else.