State agencies brace for $11m in cuts

Published 9:15 am Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Minnesota state agencies will spend less on everything from office supplies to managing parks and taxes to meet Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s budget-cutting target.

Minnesota Management and Budget on Tuesday announced $11 million worth of cuts for the state’s current fiscal year, which runs through June. Still pending are cuts for the following budget year.

Most departments were required to make the reductions under Pawlenty’s plan to balance the budget without legislative approval.

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The Republican governor used an executive power called unallotment to slash $2.7 billion from state spending over two years, delaying checks to schools and cutting public health programs, aid to local governments and higher education.

That plan forced most state agencies to shed 2.25 percent of spending, after most had already pared 5 percent as part of a budget enacted by Pawlenty and lawmakers. The extra reductions will save the state $33 million over two years.

Programs for public safety, military and veterans affairs, prisons and sex offenders escaped the cuts.

The biggest reductions outlined Tuesday include $3.3 million in Department of Human Services administration; a $1.5 million cut to Metro Transit, which operates Twin Cities buses and a light-rail line; and a $924,000 cut for managing the Department of Revenue’s tax system.

Pawlenty’s office will also reduce its budget for the year by nearly $81,000 to meet the goal.

Also hit: dairy and food inspectors, citizen services, early hearing loss intervention, services for the blind, housing rehabilitation loans, human rights enforcement, parks management and natural resources enforcement programs.

In other news, leaders of non-metropolitan Minnesota cities are meeting to talk about how to get by amid state aid cuts and declining property values that can take a toll on taxes.

The Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities holds its summer conference today through Friday in Brainerd.

Seventy-seven cities make up the coalition.