State agencies outline $11 million in budget cuts

Mississippi headwaters
Visitors walk the rocks at the Mississippi River headwaters in Itasca State Park. State funding for the parks system is being cut this year to meet Gov. Pawlenty's budget targets.
MPR Photo/Tom Robertson

State finance officials have detailed $11 million in spending cuts that government departments and agencies will absorb in the current fiscal year. The cuts are part of Gov. Tim Pawlenty's larger unallotment plan that erased a $2.7 billion budget deficit.

The biggest reductions outlined in Tuesday's report include $3.3 million in Department of Human Services administration, a $1.5 million cut to Metro Transit and a $924,000 cut for managing the Department of Revenue's tax system. State Management and Budget Commissioner Tom Hanson said some of the reductions could soon result in job cuts.

"The most obvious impact will probably be much like the rest of the economy, businesses in the economy, we will be hiring less people," Hanson said. "So positions will be left open, and in some cases, you probably will agencies laying off personnel."

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

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

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.

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.

Hanson said he'll release details in a few weeks of spending cuts planned for the second year of the two-year budget cycle.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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