Minnesota cities told budget woes will worsen
Minnesota city leaders were told Friday the state's budget crisis is truly mammoth and will likely look even worse when a new forecast comes out in March.
"Don't expect the Legislature to be our savior," said Gary Carlson of the League of Minnesota Cities, speaking to city officials from across the state during an online webinar.
Carlson, the league's director of intergovernmental relations, shared information about the state's looming $4.8 billion deficit and outlined cuts Gov. Tim Pawlenty proposed to balance the budget.
Pawlenty's plan includes reducing aid to cities by more than $280 million over the next two years.
While aid to cities makes up 3 percent of the state budget, Carlson said the proposed cuts in city aid represent 11 percent of Pawlenty's budget solution.
"Cities have become the state budget reserve," Carlson said.
He said there has been talk of easing state mandates to help cities cope, but added communities shouldn't count on it.
"It's going to be a tougher battle than most would realize," Carlson said.
League officials said cities are considering a variety of measures to help them deal with cuts in revenue.
* Offering early retirement incentives.
* Offering voluntary severance packages.
* Reducing hours for both exempt and nonexempt employees.
* Offering budget-related furloughs.
"Cities are out there really trying to get their budgets balanced," said Laura Kushner, the league's director of human resources.