The battle between Republicans and Democrats over the state budget ratchets up this week as each side stakes their ground. Senate Republicans’ budget outline released late last week targets state agencies and environmental programs for cuts, and has a broad menu of tax relief including permanent income tax cuts and lowering business property taxes. Governor Mark Dayton warns, “If we didn’t learn our lesson from 1999 and 2000 cutting ‘Jesse checks,’ and what that meant for the state for the next decade,… chronic deficits and all the pain that those imposed.”
Dayton cautions irresponsible tax cuts, coupled with uncertainty in Washington D-C, could force the state budget back into deficit. He says, “We’ve not raised anybody’s taxes in Minnesota… except for the wealthiest two percent. And the reason we have a surplus, primary reason, is because I raised taxes on the wealthiest two percent.” Republicans say years of budget surpluses prove the state is collecting too-high taxes from Minnesotans. They say Dayton wants to spend the extra money instead of returning it to taxpayers.
Senate Republicans promise details this week of their transportation funding plan, which they say will pump 570 million dollars every two years into road and bridge projects. Dayton maintains a gas tax increase is the only way he knows to address Minnesota’s long-term transportation needs.
Here are Gov. Dayton’s comments on Senate Republicans’ budget outline: