With four weeks left in the 2011 Legislative Session, there has been little progress in the overall budget from Republican leadership. The Republican-led House and Senate approved nine budget bills as well as a tax bill. These bills have been sitting in conference committees for several weeks with no action. This legislation will have devastating consequences for Minnesota families and will leave our state less educated, less healthy, and less financially stable.
Below I have summarized the impacts of the budget bills authored by Senate Republicans:
K-12 Education: Cuts education funding by $35 million; special education funding caps will result in a $118 million funding cut to schools; integration aid will be phased out.
Higher Education: A 13% cut to Minnesota State College and Universities (MnSCU) and a 19% cut of the University of Minnesota will take funding levels for higher education back more than a decade. With such large cuts, there will be lasting consequences to our schools.
Health and Human Services: A cut of $1.8 billion will jeopardize health care for nearly 200,000 Minnesotans. This bill slashes funding for the state’s nursing homes, cuts funding for child care and adoption, and eliminates mental health crisis grants.
Public Safety and Judiciary: Eliminates critical crime prevention grants, slashes funding for firefighter training, and cuts state funding for the Department of Human Rights in half.
Taxes: Increases statewide property taxes by $644 million and cuts the renter’s credit, which will result in a $105 million tax increase on renters.
Transportation: Metro Transit is cut by $32 million, which will result in reduced transit services, fewer routes, and higher fares on Metro Transit buses.
It is clear through these proposals that poor and middle class citizens will be hurt and the budget will be balanced at their expense. Average Minnesotans will see cuts to their schools, increases in their tuition, and increases in their property taxes. While regular Minnesotans make these sacrifices, the Republican plan contains $115 million worth of tax cuts to corporations and the continued protection of the wealthiest among us. With a month left in session, it is time for the Legislature to work for real solutions to our economy and our deficit, that don’t force middle class Minnesotans to pick up the entire tab.