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Minn. lawmakers back economic development cuts

ST. PAUL -- Minnesota economic development takes a $21 million hit in a year when the economy itself is taking its biggest hit in 50 years.

The Senate voted to cut economic development funding 38-28 Monday night. The House is expected to follow suit today.

A House-Senate compromise funding proposal cuts state economic development funds from $284 million being spent in the current budget to $263 million in the two-year budget starting July 1.

Included in the cuts are state and regional arts programs, Minnesota Historical Society, housing programs and tourism.

While cuts to many programs were approved, the bill also raises fees on Minnesotans' wages to raise $15 million for the workforce Development Fund.

The bill also:

  • Mandates state and local governments to buy uniforms and safety equipment made in the United States.
  • Orders state and local governments to give preference to businesses that pay wages 150 percent of the federal poverty rate, an effort to reward better-paying employers.
  • Requires the University of Minnesota to form organizations at the Twin Cities and Duluth campuses "to foster an environment ... conducive to the purposes of higher education and a vital community."
  • Designates hockey as the official state sport.
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.