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House and Senate subcommittee talks about spending cut impacts on eve of election year.

DFLers in Legislature to talk spending cuts?

State Capitol watchers interested in learning more about what’s at stake in the upcoming 2010 legislative session should consider tuning in to Monday’s Balanced Budget Subcommittee meeting.

A press release this afternoon from Senate DFL staff noted the agenda will include “an analysis of the impact potential spending reductions during the 2010 Legislative Session would have on the projected FY 2012-13 budget deficit under various scenarios.”

Depending on the numbers unveiled in the upcoming November economic forecast, the state’s current two-year budget for 2010-2011 could be facing more red ink. The forecast could also expand an ever-widening gap for 2012-2013 that is already pegged at $4.4 billion, if calculated conservatively.

It will be interesting to see how detailed legislators get in their discussion of spending cuts at Monday’s hearing and in the future. The state’s fiscal mess makes cuts seem like a reasonable part of any budget solving strategy. But from a political standpoint, will 2010 DFL gubernatorial candidates who are currently high-ranking legislators like House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher, DFL-Minneapolis, expose themselves to potentially damaging political repercussions by piecing together a legislative agenda that involves cuts?

And if the severity of proposed cuts in 2010 make moderate Republicans blink, will DFL leaders be emboldened to make another attempt to pass a tax increase over Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s veto?  

In such a delicate political environment, it’s possible that nothing significant on the spending or revenue fronts will happen in 2010. Indeed the political sensitivity of talking about spending cuts on the eve of an election year makes today’s DFL Senate press release almost provocative.

Senate Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller, DFL-Minneapolis, and House Finance Committee Chairman Lyndon Carlson, DFL-Crystal, who are not running for governor, are co-chairmen of the subcommittee. The hearing is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. in Room 15 of the state Capitol.

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