The Minnesota Senate Finance Committee has begun piecing together a plan to erase the state's nearly $1 billion budget deficit.
In the first of a series of three budget bills, DFL leaders are proposing to cut $209 million from eight spending categories.
The biggest cuts would come in higher education, public safety and state government, nearly identical to the amount Governor Pawlenty proposed cutting cut in those areas.
DFL Senator Sandy Pappas of St. Paul outlined a $48 million in cut for colleges and universities.
"As with all our budgets, this is a very painful bill. Because we, I think we all can agree that we should not be cutting higher education. We should be making investments."
During a hearing Monday, Senate Finance Chairman Richard Cohen of St. Paul explained that separate bills dealing with human services and K-12 education will come later.
"Additionally, the expectation is that there will be some kind of general fund cut in the tax committee to their general fund appropriations. And that ultimately would be included in this bill as well. Now, I'll just tell you that's a little bit of a work in progress, because obviously this isn't the tax committee," Cohen said.
Senate Republican leaders said they don't like the DFL's piecemeal approach to the budget. They want to see the entire plan for solving the deficit before voting.