Budget problem ‘sinking in slowly’

Minnesota legislators are a month away from their deadline to send all tax and budget bills to Gov. Tim Pawlenty, but there is a doubt whether Minnesotans understand the state faces a serious budget problem.

Assistant Senate Majority Leader Tarryl Clark, DFL-St. Cloud, said senators are receiving few public comments about the budget, indicating the public does not understand the problem.

Sen. LeRoy Stumpf, DFL-Plummer, added: "I’m not sure we get it yet. … This is sinking in slowly."

The size of the problem is historic. Federal funds, tax increases, delaying payments, borrowing money and other schemes are being considered to balance the budget.

Stumpf said the cuts are especially hard on long-time senators; he has served in the Senate since 1983.

"In many cases, you are cutting the very programs you put in place," Stumpf said.

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