Sections

Weather Forecast

Close

GOP lawmakers eye budget

ST. PAUL -- Republicans would spend $3 billion less than Democrat Mark Dayton while increasing education and health spending slightly, but another two weeks' worth of legislative committee work is needed before Minnesotans know how the GOP budget will look.

"There is much more that you don't know than you do know by seeing these raw numbers," Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, said Thursday after examining an outline of how Republicans would spend $34 billion in the next two years.

Republican leaders repeatedly deflected reporters' questions about specific spending plans, saying they would let their committees make those decisions.

For instance, Republicans said they want nearly $11 billion for health and human services programs in the next budget, a 5 percent to 6 percent increase from current spending. But other than that, saying some health care programs will get more money and some less.

GOP leaders would not be specific about how funding would be divided, but said nursing homes are a priority.

House Majority Leader Matt Dean, R-Dellwood, said there will be "real cuts" if the GOP budget is enacted.

He and House Speaker Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove, promised a $300 million tax cut for low- and middle-income Minnesotans. Senate Republicans said they would give businesses a tax break, but did not say how big a break it would be.

Republicans also generally agreed that the state would send less money to local governments than in the past, but said how much those payments are cut is up to committee members.

Legislative finance committees have two weeks to figure out budget details. Then, the Senate Finance Committee and House Ways and Means Committee finish the budget work and prepare bills for votes in both chambers.

Dayton was not happy with what he saw from Republicans.

"Earlier today, the governor reiterated his belief that budgets are a reflection of values and priorities and the decisions we make about the budget affect people's lives," Dayton Press Secretary Katharine Tinucci said Thursday. "Based on the spreadsheets the GOP put out today it appears those values and priorities are cutting education, cutting health care, cutting jobs, cutting veterans and raising property taxes. These cuts will hurt school children, taxpayers, businesses and seniors."

Dayton wants to raise taxes on the richest 5 percent of Minnesotans to keep state funding up. Chairwoman Mary Liz Holberg, R-Lakeville, of the House Ways and Means Committee said Republicans will not raise state taxes and they do not plan to raise fees.

Dayton proposes a $37.4 billion budget. The current two-year budget, which ends June 30, is expected to hit $34.6 billion.

All the budget plans plug a $5 billion projected budget deficit.

Democrats say that cuts in local government payments would force an increase in local property taxes. It was not clear how much of a hit local governments would take from GOP budget plans, but it appeared to be in the hundreds millions of dollars lower than local officials expected.

Mayors from across Minnesota met with Dayton on Wednesday expressing their interest in continued payments from the state. Dayton promised to protect their aid.

On Thursday, Dayton told firefighters gathered at the Capitol that local payments are critical to keeping communities safe.

Republicans said that cuts are needed in most areas.

"We are going to live within our means," Deputy Senate Majority Leader Geoff Michel, R-Edina, said, and not budget what lawmakers would like to spend.

Budget outlines from House and Senate Republicans are similar, but not identical. Examples of cuts they would make include:

E Higher education, 16 percent (Dayton proposes a 7 percent cut).

E Environment and energy, nearly 30 percent (Dayton, 10 percent).

E Agriculture, 11 percent (Dayton, 10 percent).

E Economic development, 47 to 58 percent (Dayton, 15 percent)

E Courts and public safety, 4 to 9 percent (Dayton, 4 percent)

E State agencies, 34 to 53 percent (Dayton, 3 percent)

Don Davis works for Forum Communications Co., which owns the Bemidji Pioneer.

ST. PAUL -- Republicans would spend $3 billion less than Democrat Mark Dayton while increasing education and health spending slightly, but another two weeks' worth of legislative committee work is needed before Minnesotans know how the GOP budget will look.

"There is much more that you don't know than you do know by seeing these raw numbers," Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, said Thursday after examining an outline of how Republicans would spend $34 billion in the next two years.

Republican leaders repeatedly deflected reporters' questions about specific spending plans, saying they would let their committees make those decisions.

For instance, Republicans said they want nearly $11 billion for health and human services programs in the next budget, a 5 percent to 6 percent increase from current spending. But other than that, saying some health care programs will get more money and some less.

GOP leaders would not be specific about how funding would be divided, but said nursing homes are a priority.

House Majority Leader Matt Dean, R-Dellwood, said there will be "real cuts" if the GOP budget is enacted.

He and House Speaker Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove, promised a $300 million tax cut for low- and middle-income Minnesotans. Senate Republicans said they would give businesses a tax break, but did not say how big a break it would be.

Republicans also generally agreed that the state would send less money to local governments than in the past, but said how much those payments are cut is up to committee members.

Legislative finance committees have two weeks to figure out budget details. Then, the Senate Finance Committee and House Ways and Means Committee finish the budget work and prepare bills for votes in both chambers.

Dayton was not happy with what he saw from Republicans.

"Earlier today, the governor reiterated his belief that budgets are a reflection of values and priorities and the decisions we make about the budget affect people's lives," Dayton Press Secretary Katharine Tinucci said Thursday. "Based on the spreadsheets the GOP put out today it appears those values and priorities are cutting education, cutting health care, cutting jobs, cutting veterans and raising property taxes. These cuts will hurt school children, taxpayers, businesses and seniors."

Dayton wants to raise taxes on the richest 5 percent of Minnesotans to keep state funding up. Chairwoman Mary Liz Holberg, R-Lakeville, of the House Ways and Means Committee said Republicans will not raise state taxes and they do not plan to raise fees.

Dayton proposes a $37.4 billion budget. The current two-year budget, which ends June 30, is expected to hit $34.6 billion.

All the budget plans plug a $5 billion projected budget deficit.

Democrats say that cuts in local government payments would force an increase in local property taxes. It was not clear how much of a hit local governments would take from GOP budget plans, but it appeared to be in the hundreds millions of dollars lower than local officials expected.

Mayors from across Minnesota met with Dayton on Wednesday expressing their interest in continued payments from the state. Dayton promised to protect their aid.

On Thursday, Dayton told firefighters gathered at the Capitol that local payments are critical to keeping communities safe.

Republicans said that cuts are needed in most areas.

"We are going to live within our means," Deputy Senate Majority Leader Geoff Michel, R-Edina, said, and not budget what lawmakers would like to spend.

Budget outlines from House and Senate Republicans are similar, but not identical. Examples of cuts they would make include:

- Higher education, 16 percent (Dayton proposes a 7 percent cut).

- Environment and energy, nearly 30 percent (Dayton, 10 percent).

- Agriculture, 11 percent (Dayton, 10 percent).

- Economic development, 47 to 58 percent (Dayton, 15 percent)

- Courts and public safety, 4 to 9 percent (Dayton, 4 percent)

- State agencies, 34 to 53 percent (Dayton, 3 percent)

Don Davis works for Forum Communications Co., which owns the Bemidji Pioneer.

Advertisement
randomness