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Senate votes to chop $830 million out of next budget

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ST. PAUL -- Minnesota senators voted to trim $830 million out of the next state budget and $125 million from the current one today in a first step to plugging a budget gap.

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The 37-27 vote came as Republicans stood together to back their plan.

"We know we are going to have to make hard choices like this," Senate Finance Chairwoman Claire Robling, R-Jordan, said, "so we might as well get started today."

Democrats, meanwhile, criticized the GOP piecemeal approach to the budget, with the big decisions left to be made in the coming months. Republicans last year criticized Democrats for not offering a one-step budget.

The Senate-passed bill, the first part of an effort to plug a $6.2 billion deficit, and one the House adopted earlier now head to a conference committee, where legislative leaders said they want Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton's administration gets involved.

The Senate bill requires Dayton to cut $125 million from the budget that ends June 30. Democrats say that is more money than remains available in the budget.

The measure includes permanent cuts beginning in the next two-year budget of $300 million from what cities had expected and $186 million from counties. Another $185 million would be trimmed from state colleges and universities.

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