ST. PAUL, Minn. – Senate Finance Committee Chairman Richard Cohen (DFL-St. Paul) announced the Minnesota Senate DFL budget targets today, providing a framework for their plan to close the state’s $627 million budget shortfall, invest in the middle class, and grow the state’s economy. By offering a structurally balanced budget without one-time money or borrowing, the Senate DFL joins Gov. Mark Dayton and House DFL leaders in putting the state on a new course toward long-term economic growth and a permanent departure from the last decade of near-constant deficits.
The Senate’s plan calls for $1.4 billion in targeted new investments focused on priorities widely shared by Minnesotans. The largest single investment—$486 million—is made in the area of education to allow the state to improve early education programs and fund all-day kindergarten for every child, statewide. An additional investment of more than $262 million in higher education will help lower costs for college students and prepare Minnesota’s workforce for 21st century jobs. Another $135 million is allocated for environment and economic development to spur business growth and create good-paying jobs throughout Minnesota.
The Senate’s proposal also makes property tax relief a top priority with a major, $463 million investment in tax aids and credits. Specifically, these dollars are aimed at restoring the state-paid homestead credit and increasing aid to city and county governments. The past decade of cuts to local government aid has caused property taxes in Minnesota to more than double, and the previous budget cycle saw the elimination of the homestead credit. The Senate’s budget plan would begin to remedy the unfair property tax burden that has been passed along to homeowners, renters, farmers, and business owners.
Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk (DFL-Cook) said, “Our budget is built around some fairly simple priorities that I think reflect those of most Minnesotans. Investing in our kids’ education is crucial to our state’s future, and property tax relief can’t come soon enough for Minnesota families.”
Sen. Cohen stressed the importance of passing a structurally balanced budget, saying, “As Minnesota’s economic recovery continues to gain momentum, our most important job is to give the state solid financial footing for the years ahead. That starts by balancing the budget fairly and honestly, without sacrificing our future.”
Added Bakk, “There is still much work to be done this session, but I’m very pleased that the Governor and the majorities in the House and Senate share the same commitment to passing a fair and responsible budget focused on investments in education, property tax relief, and job creation. We’re looking forward to hearing from the public and working together on building a shared vision for a better, more prosperous state.”
Senate General Fund Targets are attached and will be posted at the Senate Counsel, Research and Fiscal Analysis website. (http://www.senate.leg.state.mn.us/departments/office_bio.php?office_id=1007&ls=)