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Surprise! DFL and GOP leaders differ as budget countdown clock ticks

With a month left in the legislative session, if there’s a state budget compromise on the horizon it sure wasn’t obvious Monday morning.
Republican leaders left for a statewide fly-around touting their no-new-taxes budgets in the House and Senate e

With a month left in the legislative session, if there’s a state budget compromise on the horizon it sure wasn’t obvious Monday morning.

Republican leaders left for a statewide fly-around touting their no-new-taxes budgets in the House and Senate even as DFL leaders trashed the GOP plans as “made-up numbers” and “guesses.”

In a release, Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch, R-Buffalo, said: “Our committee budget bills restore the principles of limited government and maintain our commitment to make government live within its means. We have been working hard from day one to offer a complete, balanced budget solution that does not raise taxes.”

Speaker of the House Kurt Zellers said: “Minnesotans have a clear choice. The governor wants to raise taxes by $2.4 billion to increase government spending by 22%. Republicans cut taxes, cut spending and reformed government. Our budget is balanced and puts Minnesota on the right path for economic competitiveness.”

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Au contraire, said DFL leaders in a competing conference call with reporters this morning.

As they’ve been saying for weeks, DFL Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk and DFL House Minority Leader Paul Thissen, reiterated that the GOP budgets are based on faulty assumptions because they have rejected the fiscal notes offered to them by the state’s office of Management and Budget and the state Department of Revenue. They are not balanced, the DFL leaders said.

There is an assumption on the GOP’s part that some federal health care waivers can be achieved to close a $1 billion-plus hole in their budget.

Thissen likened that to buying a car on credit en route to a gambling foray “on the assumption that you’re going to win some money at the casino.”

In their pre-fly-around release, the GOP said it has helped pass bills that “are reflective of priorities of Minnesota voters.”

Among them, in their words:

“Providing direct tax relief to homeowners and making Minnesota more business-friendly by phasing out the statewide business property tax.

“Encouraging private sector job growth by keeping taxes low and giving regulatory relief.

“Restoring security and integrity to Minnesota elections by requiring photo ID at polling places … 

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“Delivering substantial education reforms that put students first and improve education in Minnesota.

“Limiting the reach and impact of ObamaCare in Minnesota.”

But Bakk expressed concern that focusing on social issues, such as Voter ID and, perhaps, gaming initiatives, could distract the GOP from nailing down the budget discrepancies.

“I’m very concerned we’re not going to be done in time if they don’t make the budget the Number One  priority here in the next four weeks,” Bakk said of the May 23 legislative deadline.