Governors financial advice to Minneapolis: Reduce

Pawlenty’s proposal includes $30 million cut in Minneapolis’ share of local-government aid

Gov. Tim Pawlenty today announced he would reduce by $300 million local aids and credits statewide over the next two years as part of his budget-balancing unallotments. That includes about $30 million in local government aid currently allotted for Minneapolis, according to the Department of Revenue.

At a news conference, Pawlenty said the current economic climate requires governments to go through what many citizens are experiencing — less income and tighter budgets. That includes local municipalities, he said.

“All cities, especially large cities … need to reduce their budgets,” Pawlenty said.

The governor called out Minneapolis for annually raising its property taxes and said that for any city to request no cuts in local government aid — which Minneapolis had set as a goal for the recent legislative session — was a mistake.

Referring to Mayor R.T. Rybak, Pawlenty said, “My message to him is reduce. And try to do it in priority order.”

The governor’s proposed cuts for Minneapolis include $8.54 million in fiscal 2009 and $21.34 million in fiscal 2010.

In a statement, Rybak said the city already prepared for a worst-case scenario and therefore will not have to revisit its 2009 budget. But he said the state hasn’t fixed anything for the long term.

“The governor has offered no plan for putting people to work, only for cutting jobs during a tough economy,” he said. Pawlenty “has offered no strategy for fixing a broken state budget.”

Rybak is frequently named as a potential gubernatorial candidate to replace Pawlenty.

Beyond local aid cuts, Pawlenty’s proposal includes $100 million in cuts to higher education appropriations and $236 million in cuts to human services spending, which he said the Legislature had allowed to reach “out of control” and “unsustainable” levels.

“We have been sounding the alarm for years. Now I think we might have their attention,” he said.

Pawlenty’s cuts are currently at the proposal stage and could change based on events this week. He is expected to meet Thursday with a Legislative Advisory Commission. Finalized numbers are expected by July 1, the start of the state’s next biennium.

For more on Minneapolis’ efforts during the 2009 legislative session, click here