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Faith Leaders Disappointed by Lack of Budget Compromise

May 20, 2009

St. Paul, MN – Minnesota's faith community is calling the just-ended legislative session a "disappointment." DFL leaders and Republican Gov. Pawlenty could not agree on how to close the state's $4.6 billion budget deficit. Brian Rusche with the Joint Religious Legislative Coalition says the breakdown goes against state history and tradition.

"We've got a track record here in Minnesota of reasonable people making compromises and governing for the good of the state. It's a bipartisan tradition, but we seemed to have turned a corner this time."

This year, Rusche says, the governor refused to accept any tax increases, and lawmakers could not override his vetoes. Pawlenty says he will act on his own to make the budget cuts needed.

Usually by the final gavel, all parties have reached a deal that has some of what everyone wants, Rusche says, including tax increases, spending cuts and delayed payments. But not this year.

"We seem to have fallen into a deeper partisan division. My deepest disappointment is that the governor simply didn't compromise on revenues."

That means no funding for health-care assistance for thousands of Minnesotans with little or no health insurance coverage, Rusche says. The governor reportedly is considering spending cuts (through a process called "unallotment") for local governments, higher education and welfare. He says he will make his decisions by July 1.

Jim Wishner, Public News Service - MN