Pawlenty's Proposed Budget Impacts Children and Their Families


February 22, 2010  Nearly two-thirds of Governor Pawlenty's proposed $1.2 billion deficit reduction plan comes from Health and Human Services—half from hoped-for (but not yet guaranteed) federal funds and half from cuts in programs and services. Many of those cuts will impact children and their families.

The Governor’s 2010 Budget continues his record of proposing cuts in many of the programs serving children and their families.  Nearly two-thirds of his $1.2 billion deficit reduction plan comes from Health and Human Services—half from hoped-for (but not yet guaranteed) federal funds and half from cuts in programs and services. Many of those cuts will impact children and their families.

“If we want to invest in the future of Minnesota, we have to start with our children,” said Jim Koppel, Director, Children’s Defense Fund Minnesota. “These cuts are very shortsighted.”

While the Governor protects K-12 education from budget cuts, the cuts he proposes in health and human services are likely to increase the need for more costly special education and other remedial education services in the future.

Particularly hard hit in the Governor’s budget is child care assistance for low-income working families. The Governor proposes cutting child care provider rates, reducing the total amount of funds available for the basic sliding fee scale program and reducing benefits to families with a disabled family member.

The Governor’s budget also cuts or eliminates other supports for low-income families including child support enforcement assistance, food support for legal noncitizens, and assistance to reduce MinnesotaCare premiums. He uses federal stimulus money that could be used to expand anti-poverty efforts to substitute for state funds instead. The Governor makes permanent his unallotments from last spring, including his $23 million cut to the county grant for child welfare and children’s mental health services.

The Governor also proposes cuts in other mental health programs for children and youth, and makes several reductions to programs that could avert future costs, such as the Mothers First/Native American grants, and temporary relocation funds for families while their homes undergo lead abatements. He proposes taking $10 million from the State Health Improvement Program—one of the cornerstones of the state’s efforts to reduce future health care costs.

Several of the cuts the Governor proposed in other areas may also impact children and families, depending on how those directly impacted by the reductions respond. For instance, critical access dental payments and donated dental service grants are cut, state agencies and local governments will experience another round of cuts, as will hospitals and chemical dependency treatment service providers. The state’s higher education institutions will also see substantial cuts under the Governor’s proposal.

Even if the cuts proposed by the Governor are largely adopted, more cuts will occur next biennium unless additional revenue and other changes are put on the table because many of the Governor’s proposed solutions are one-time.

If the nearly $400 million in increased federal matching funds the Governor is using to balance his budget does not materialize, the Governor has promised more budget cuts to fill the hole.

For detailed information on these cuts affecting children and their families click here.