Minn. panels focus on budget for health, welfare

Two House committees start work Wednesday on one of the biggest areas of Minnesota's budget, health and welfare spending.

House Republicans want to spend $1.3 billion less on those programs than Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton recommended in his budget.

Lawmakers on two health and human services panels meet together to detail how they plan to tighten spending. They aim to get along with a minor increase in health and welfare spending without making up for expiring federal stimulus dollars.

About 30 percent of the state's general fund goes to health and social service programs ranging from health care for the poor to nursing homes, psychiatric hospitals and services for those with disabilities.

Lawmakers face an internal March 25 deadline to finish budget bills.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)