Independence Party-endorsed candidate for governor Tom Horner provided the most surprises for us in our hockey-themed budget exercise. He was smooth and comfortable with the specifics of state government spending. As a parent of two hockey players he was a good sport about our theme. What we didn’t see coming was how the former Republican would balance his budget with our “Revenue Bucket.” We made each candidate account for a potential 10% shortfall through cuts, reforms, and/or revenue. Horner found all 10% or ten hockey pucks in revenue. He prompted us to create a gambling revenue source although he didn’t want to “go nuts” on new gambling. His biggest source of revenue came from 4% in sales taxes through broadening the base and lowering the rate. 1% each came from cigarette taxes, income taxes, corporate tax loopholes, fees, federal money and gambling.
When it came to spending priorities, Horner took one of the more balanced approaches by putting the most money 33% in health and human services which eats up an increasing amount of the budget. K-12 and higher education combined for 41%. Local government aids followed at 8% which ended up on the higher end for the candidates. Public safety received 5%. Transportation spending varied greatly because of its dedicated funding source, Horner put 3% there talking about the importance of metro and regional transit, another surprise from the former Republican. Debt service on bonding also came in at 3%. Environment, economic development and state government all got 2%. Agriculture and veterans received 1%.