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House takes 8 percent chunk out of Senate budget

Charley Shaw//March 23, 2011

House takes 8 percent chunk out of Senate budget

Charley Shaw//March 23, 2011

Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk
Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk

The House and Senate have undertaken the task of chopping each others’ budget in their respective state government finance bills. One item that might occasion some pique in the upper chamber: The House cuts the Senate by a greater percentage than it trims its own budget.

The Senate has base funding for 2012-2013 of $43.6 million. The House has a $58.7 million base. The House reduces the Senate’s base to $40.1 million, an 8 percent cut. They give themselves $55.7 million, which represents a 5-percent cut.

The Senate, on the other hand, the Senate gives both itself and the House a 5 percent cut.

There have been fears in the Senate going back to last year that minority staffing levels could be cut so deeply that every DFL legislative assistant has to serve two senators. Minority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, said he hasn’t been informed by GOP majority leaders that they have any particular staff changes in mind.
“There could be some adjustments to Senate staffing levels depending on what the ultimate cut in the final budget solution is,” Bakk said.

The Senate self-insures its unemployment program. Since the DFL caucus laid off 42 employees after losing the majority last November, the cash obligations for unemployment benefits have been significant.

“It’s putting a pretty big drain [on the fund],” Bakk said. “We had to pay out all the additional sick pay, all the comp time that people had accumulated. The vacation benefits all had to be paid out in cash.”

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