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Budget probe about to begin

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Budget probe about to begin
Farmington Minnesota P.O. Box 192 / 312 Oak St. 55024

ST. PAUL - Minnesota legislators begin to delve into Gov. Tim Pawlenty's budget proposal in the next few days.

Most committee meetings beginning Monday will deal with budget issues.

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And then they take Pawlenty's budget on the road to see what Minnesotans think of the $33 billion proposal.

However, Democrats say, the budget Pawlenty released Tuesday may not include enough numbers.

"Some are concerned they are not going to have enough details from the governor," Assistant Senate Majority Leader Tarryl Clark, DFL-St. Cloud, said.

Democratic leaders like Clark complain that Pawlenty's staff has not given them detailed bills to debate.

One of the questions, she said, is whether the Pawlenty proposal does not include enough money in some areas to take advantage of federal economic recovery money expected to flow to states in coming weeks.

Key legislators will tour the state Feb. 19-20 to get public input.

"I hope we can get just regular folks there," Clark said.

Town hall meetings will be in Mankato, Rochester, St. Cloud and Willmar on Feb. 19, with Feb. 20 featuring stops in Alexandria, Albert Lea, Bemidji, Duluth, Little Falls, Marshall, Virginia, Winona and Worthington. Locations and times are being negotiated.

The Senate Tax Committee meets at 12:30 p.m. at Minnesota State University Moorhead, with discussion to include Local Government Aid.

"Thousands of Minnesotans have already taken the time to send their budget ideas to both the House and Senate websites," said Rep. Loren Solberg, House Ways and Means Committee chairman. "It is very clear that Minnesotans are anxious to share their input. They care about the future of our state and want to help."

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Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.
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