It Only Gets Wilder From Here

In some people’s minds, there is a disconnect between legislators negotiating with the governor while at the same time on the same bill overriding his veto.

And a maneuver never used before, holding back an already-passed bill so the governor does not veto it, could be seen as confrontational.

That is the way the 2010 Minnesota legislative session has gone; it’s been a wild ride.

The session begins its second month on Thursday, two days after lawmakers and Gov. Tim Pawlenty learn how big a budget deficit they really face; that is when the real work, with more serious controversy, begins.

On Tuesday, Minnesota Management and Budget releases what is called a "budget forecast," predictions about how state revenue and spending mesh.

The most recent forecast, in early December, reported a $1.2 billion budget deficit. Capitol finance experts say they expect little change in Tuesday’s report, certainly not enough to fill the gap.

The next step will be to plug that gap, and all sides say cutting state spending will play a major role.

While Pawlenty’s spokesman said that the Republican governor expects to see a full budget proposal from Democrats who control the Legislature, leading lawmakers appear leaning toward making cuts in three phases.

Senate Majority leader Larry Pogemiller, DFL-Minneapolis, said that he expects the first budget-cutting will to surface in two or three weeks. It would cut most state programs other than education and health care. He said most of those cuts would be fairly noncontroversial.

House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher, another Minneapolis Democrat, said that her finance committees may be able to start producing budget bills a few days after the forecast.

Expect budget cuts, and later the topic of raising taxes, to dominate Capitol news the next two and a half months.