The budget battle got a little more specific at the Capitol as lawmakers set their budget targets. Targets are the GOP’s starting point, a framework, somewhat like the DFL governor’s proposed budget. The Senate plans to spend $34 billion, Gov. Mark Dayton spends $37 billion. Senate GOP Majority Leader Amy Koch repeated their common refrain “we’re living within our means.” Education appears to be the major area with the most agreement, Finance Chair Sen. Claire Robling said “We are not impacting education with any deep cuts at all.” Leglislative leaders and the governor put a k-12 payment shift in their budgets.
Health and Human Services has the biggest difference where the GOP and DFL are billions of dollars apart. HHS Chair Sen. David Hann said “We are looking for significant Medicaid reform” but former chair Sen. Linda Berglin said “the devil is in the details.” Revenue and taxes will be the biggest area of contention. The legislature’s cut to Local Government Aid is not as deep as suspected, Republicans wouldn’t get specific but said to stay tuned to Tax Committee. DFL Minority Leader Tom Bakk said “Republicans don’t have the votes in their caucus for deep LGA cuts.”