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Minn. Officials Have Few Details On Spending Cuts

By KYLE POTTER

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) â¿¿ The deadline for a deal to avert $85 billion in government-wide spending cuts is just days away, but Minnesota officials are still playing a guessing game for where and when federal funding would be slashed in the state.

Without clear answers from Washington, D.C., some state agencies have cobbled together a rough picture of how the automatic cuts may affect Minnesotans. Others, like the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, say they're at a loss.

The White House released summaries this week detailing the impact the cuts would have on Minnesota and other states, and President Barack Obama has been making the rounds to highlight them. Republicans have accused the president of political grandstanding rather than staying in Washington to work out a deal with Congress.

The state's budget office projects the across-the-board cuts would increase the state's unemployment rate by 0.2 percent and curb job growth by as many as 5,000 jobs.

But the nation's Office of Management and Budget and the federal agencies that dole out funding are short on details, state officials have said.

"It's hugely frustrating," said Lyle Mueller, finance director for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

MPCA receives grants from the Environmental Protection Agency, but Mueller said he hasn't been able to confirm which of them may not be coming.

One of the biggest remaining questions state agencies have is when those cuts will take place.

"That's part of the difficulty of figuring out the impact," Tony Orr of the Minnesota Housing Finance Authority told a House committee Wednesday. "We don't have any specifics at this point."

Minnesota receives among the lowest proportion of funds in the nation from the federal government, but the cuts will likely spread to many different agencies and services. Minnesota Management and Budget is meeting with several state agencies Friday â¿¿ the day cuts start to kick in â¿¿ to try to help find some answers.

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