The following is a statement from Senate DFL Caucus Leader Tom Bakk on the Governor’s budget proposal:
“A little more than a decade ago, while our state and nation were enjoying one of the greatest economic booms the world had ever seen, leaders in St. Paul passed a series of sweeping, permanent tax cuts totaling over $2 billion a year.
The decade that followed was a fiscal nightmare for our state. In 2003, we faced what newly-elected Gov. Pawlenty called the “Incredible Hulk of budget deficits.” This was followed by years of cuts to schools, colleges, nursing homes, and aid to cities and counties. The impact on Minnesotans and our local communities was dramatic: class sizes grew, tuition doubled, and key services like police and fire protection and road maintenance were cut. We saw our tax burden grow increasingly regressive, with property taxes jumping by $3 billion a year, and new fees generating an additional $3 billion.
And yet, after all these cuts, after all these shifts onto property taxes, after all the new fees, the state’s budget deficit actually grew by $2 billion during Pawlenty’s time in office.
The tax cuts that were passed at the turn of the century have proven to be unsustainable. Gov. Dayton today unveiled a plan to correct that mistake.
The Governor’s budget provides new resources for our schools after a decade of stagnant funding. It begins to re-establish a strong relationship between the state and local governments, which is critical to maintaining safe communities and holding property taxes in check. The Governor’s budget recognizes that our tax system has become increasingly regressive in the past 10 years, and protects the pocket books of middle-class families. In fact, his proposal would simply ask the wealthiest 5% of Minnesotans to pay the same tax rate the rest of us already pay.
Most importantly, the Governor has finally offered a plan that will bring long-term stability to our budget, after a rollercoaster decade that saw the state swing from record surpluses to record deficits.
We are facing the biggest budget deficit in our state’s history, and we know we are going to face many difficult choices in the months ahead. There will be no easy answers to this crisis. I commend Gov. Dayton for bringing a complete, balanced budget solution to the table, and for staying true to the promises he made to Minnesotans over the past year.
Now it is the Republican legislative leadership’s turn. They’ve promised Minnesotans an all-cuts solution to this crisis. They’ve already given us a taste of what their budget will look like: higher property taxes and cuts to police and fire protection, deep reductions to colleges and universities, and painful cuts to core social services, such as the protection of abused and neglected children. Minnesotans will expect them to put the rest of their budget plan on the table soon, so that we can have an open and honest discussion about the difficult choices before us.”