St. Paul, Minn.—Senate Finance Committee Chair Sen. Richard Cohen (DFL-St. Paul), Senate Tax Committee Chair Sen. Rod Skoe (DFL-Clearbrook), Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk (DFL-Cook), Senate Assistant Majority Leader Katie Sieben (DFL-Cottage Grove), and Senate Deputy Majority Leader Jeff Hayden (DFL-Minneapolis) have released the 2016 budget targets for the Minnesota State Senate. Senate DFL Budget targets reflect the stated priorities of the Senate DFL Caucus: investing in transportation, building Minnesota, expanding education opportunities, and supporting equity for workers and families.
These targets deliver on the promise to take a balanced, sustainable, and forward-looking approach to fiscal management; maintaining a strong commitment to deliver a structurally balanced state budget. The commitment to these same principles in 2015 resulted in a $900 million budget surplus this year, while investing in education, nursing homes, and other important priorities shared by all Minnesotans.
“These thoughtful and restrained budget targets will continue DFL legislators’ work to build an economy that works for everyone. Our targets are closely aligned with Governor Dayton’s, but we find ourselves a long way from the drastic and unrealistic priorities that make up the House Republican targets. We have only a few weeks left in this session, I hope House Republicans soon realize that in order to get anything done this session they will need to move closer to where the DFL Senate and Governor Dayton are,” Bakk said.
The Senate Tax Committee chaired by Sen. Rod Skoe will provide $300 million in sound tax relief by prioritizing the pocketbooks of workers and families.
“The DFL Senate tax bill will continue the Senate’s investment in Minnesota through reasonable and sensible tax relief. We provide relief for property owners, aid to our local governments, student loan debt relief, and tax relief for working families,” Skoe said.
The Senate Finance Committee chaired by Sen. Richard Cohen and its budget divisions will support key investments with $489 million in the 2016 session. The largest investment, totaling $100.5 million is dedicated to expanding education opportunities. The Equity Subcommittee has received a $91 million target, this investment will deliver on the commitment to begin addressing persistent racial and economic disparities throughout Minnesota.
“The investments the Senate is making will improve our schools, provide paid family leave options for families and workers, and continue to grow Minnesota’s economy so that our state is a place where everyone can work at their highest potential,” Cohen said.
The Senate DFL Caucus commitment to investing in transportation remains unwavering, with today’s targets including $31.5 million of general fund contribution toward a comprehensive, sustainable transportation package, where bonding and tax provisions will fund the remaining transportation needs.
The lessons of legislative sessions from the late 1990s and early 2000s were influential in the development of the Senate DFL budget targets. In 2003 Minnesota faced a $4 billion structural deficit, which was the result of the many years of aggressive tax cuts and economic factors. Just 38 of 201 members of the current legislature were in office during the tax-cut frenzy years and the challenging 2003 legislative session. Many of those members hold leadership positions in the Senate and they are eager to avoid setting up the state for a similar fate.
View the targets spreadsheet here.