Both chambers of the Minnesota Legislature are getting down to budget business. Separate plans for attacking the state's nearly $1 billion deficit are facing votes in the House and Senate. Both of the all-encompassing bills rely heavily on shifting dollars from state checking and savings accounts.
But they also trim spending for health programs, higher education, courts and many other government services. There are areas that get a boost, including a modest bump in both bills for the per-pupil school allowance.
While DFL leaders in the Minnesota House describe their finance bill as responsible and balanced, Gov. Tim Pawlenty said he is concerned that the bills cut several of his priority programs.
Pawlenty also said the DFL Legislature isn't going far enough to address the deficit in the way he would like.
"The Legislature is putting together bills that they know are not acceptable to me," Pawlenty said. "And the question will be whether they're willing to compromise and put them into acceptable form in conference committee. But it doesn't appear like they're going to do that coming off the House floor."
House Minority Leader Marty Seifert, R-Marshall, described the DFL budget proposal as a "garbage bill" full of finance and policy provisions that cover dozens of subject areas.
Seifert said House Democrats aren't serious about balancing the budget.
"I think they're going to say we tried and walk away," Seifert said. "And then the governor, once again, will have to be the adult in the room who balances the budget on his own through un-allotment and draining the reserves. I don't think they're serious about balancing the budget right now. Maybe they'll get more serious as time goes on, but it's March madness in April right now the way I'm looking at it."
Pawlenty said he's bothered that the bills go after programs he put in place. But he probably won't see either bill; a conference committee will work out a common proposal to send him in coming weeks.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)