Gov. Tim Pawlenty implied Tuesday that DFLers intentionally wrote the session-ending budget bill to inflate the size of the deficit that's been left for the 2011 Legislature and his successor to close.
"It's not that difficult to bring it down to something more manageable," the GOP governor said on MPR's Midday program.
If DFLers are honest, they'll plead guilty as charged. They don't want his budget cuts to outlast his term as governor, so they made them temporary. And they didn't alter the state law that says delayed payments to schools must be presumed to be repaid immediately, even though everybody at the Capitol acknowledges it will be a decade or more before that "shift" is "unshifted."
Budget forecasts must follow the letter of the law. That means that this year's $3 billion budget gap will reappear in forecasts fore 2012-13 as if nothing had been decided this year.
But DFLers could also retort to the governor, "Well, you started it." Fiddling with forecasts for political reasons began in earnest in 2002, when, as House GOP minority leader and a candidate for governor, Pawlenty was party to a deal to remove forecasts of inflation from state spending, but not state revenues. The result understates deficits. Pawlenty is so fond of that forecasting gimmick that he vetoed a major tax bill in 2007, denying a much-needed state aid increase to cities and counties, to keep it in force.