Earlier this week, Governor Dayton released his budget and outlined his plans to balance Minnesota’s $6.2 billion deficit. He offered proposals on making cuts, streamlining services, investing in priority areas, and bringing in revenue. Now that he has provided his ideas for a complete and balanced budget, the Republican majorities have the opportunity to offer their comprehensive budget plan so that negotiations can begin.
It’s understandable that there will be differences in how the Governor and Legislature take on Minnesota’s budget shortfall. That’s why there is a legislative process—so that ideas can be proposed, analyzed, and public input can be heard. Throughout these discussions, some ideas will be set aside and new proposals may develop, but in the end, both sides will need to agree to compromise.
I think that the Governor offers a good starting point with his budget proposal. It protects 95 percent of Minnesotans from tax increases and invests in the areas that will bring our state future economic success. The Governor realized that cutting $6.2 billion (which amounts to 1/5th of the existing state budget) was simply not possible without jeopardizing our kids’ education, devastating local governments, or hurting our elderly and disabled. So he took a balanced approach to Minnesota’s budget troubles—proposing a long-term solution that will help get our state’s finances in order.
His budget includes $2.4 billion in cuts to state government. He asks state agencies to find efficiencies, partner with the private sector, innovate and pool existing resources to save costs. I commend the Governor for not making further cuts to state aid to cities and counties. Minnesota families and small businesses have seen their property taxes skyrocket over the past eight years, and at the same time, counties and cities have been struggling to provide essential services like snowplowing, police and fire rescue, and road maintenance. I’m glad the Governor is stopping the trend of pushing the state’s budget shortfall on working Minnesotan’s property taxes.
Governor Dayton’s budget also includes $4.1 billion in new revenue, which is raised by asking the wealthiest 5 percent of Minnesotans to pay the same tax rate that the rest of us already do. Right now, these wealthy individuals pay two percent less in taxes on their income than the rest of the state’s workers. With his proposal, Governor Dayton is restoring fairness to the tax system, standing up for middle-class families that have been hit hard over the past eight years. He’s protecting 95 percent of Minnesota families and 96 percent of businesses from tax increases.
Finally, the Governor’s budget includes investments in key areas that reflect the priorities of Minnesotans. By investing in early childhood education, we can improve the achievement of our students who will later become our state’s workers. Through investments in public safety, we can ensure that our communities will be safe. Improving the services and opportunities available to Minnesota veterans will honor the sacrifices they’ve made for our country.
I’m looking forward to reviewing the Governor’s proposal in the upcoming weeks and also hearing the Majority’s complete budget-balancing plan. I’ll work with lawmakers from both sides of the aisle to assemble a long-term and responsible budget.