Over the next several weeks, Minnesota Senate Republicans will roll out their response to the budget initiatives Gov. Mark Dayton unveiled this week: a series of policy proposals on education, transportation, health care and the Metropolitan Council.
“Governor Dayton has always challenged [Republicans] to come up with our own ideas and not just criticize his — and he’s right,” said the GOP caucus policy director Bill Walsh.
Walsh said Senate Minority Leader David Hann has directed his staff to develop three pieces of legislation on education reform as an extension of Hann’s response to Dayton’s initiatives. “We’ve been using this ‘throw more money at it’ approach to education for decades and it hasn’t worked,” Hann said of Dayton’s plan to spend almost half of the state’s $1 billion budget surplus on education. “Where is the education reform package. Where are the new ideas?”
The GOP caucus in the state Senate is also working on what Walsh calls “a pretty substantive transportation package,” akin to the Republican House proposal. “Our goal is to make a dent in transportation without raising taxes,” Walsh said. He added, “It may be more significant than the House.”
Other than the transportation proposal, Walsh said the legislation would not have a budget component. Budget proposals are usually left to the governor and the majority caucuses. But Walsh says the legislation will be germane and timely. “You’ll see it in the next few weeks. Now is the time before committee deadlines,” he said. “If you don’t get your policies out there, you’re irrelevant.”