$2 billion in Minnesota tax cuts?

ST. PAUL -- House Republicans want to cut Minnesotans' taxes $2 billion, but do not yet know who would benefit. The GOP House majority released an outline of its budget proposal Tuesday, calling for increases in spending for most areas but often ...

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Rep. Paul Marquart of Dilworth says Tuesday that a proposed Republican budget does not increase education funding enough. Don Davis/Forum News Service

ST. PAUL - House Republicans want to cut Minnesotans’ taxes $2 billion, but do not yet know who would benefit.

The GOP House majority released an outline of its budget proposal Tuesday, calling for increases in spending for most areas but often less than projected spending.
House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, said the House Taxes Committee has not decided who would receive tax cuts or what kind of tax relief there would be. However, he said that most would go directly to Minnesotans, not businesses.
The idea is to “put money back into the pockets of working Minnesotans,” Daudt said.
Daudt earlier had said that he did not expect to refund all of the surplus, but state Republican Party Chairman Keith Downey led a campaign to “send it all back.”
House Minority Leader Paul Thissen, D-Minneapolis, said he expects Republicans to direct tax relief mostly to corporations who politically support Republicans.
House finance committees are to work out details after GOP leaders announced spending targets for each panel.
While Republicans promoted budget growth in their proposal compared to the current budget, Democrats said the plan does not allow as much growth as has been planned.
Republicans said their plan matches what happens in families - not spending more than is available.
“Government spending should not grow faster than family budgets,” Daudt said, echoing comments Republicans made in last year’s campaigns.

“We set our budget targets with that value in mind and aimed to prioritize education, roads and bridges and protecting our aging Minnesotans’ quality of life.”
Assistant Minority Leader Paul Marquart, D-Dilworth, said that in education, for instance, Republicans would give a meager increase. The Republican plan calls for $1.1 billion more than current spending, which is more than $200 million above projected spending.
With a $2 billion surplus, Marquart said, “they are spending an increase of less than 1 percent on education.”
Chairman Jim Knoblach, R-St. Cloud, said the increase would be enough to freeze either the University of Minnesota or Minnesota State Colleges and Universities tuitions, but not both. Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton proposes to freeze tuitions in both systems.
The GOP plan for health programs and aid to the poor illustrates the difference between comparisons with current spending and what would be spent if existing law were allowed to continue. Existing law would provide an increase of more than $1 billion for those programs, while Republicans call for a $443 million boost over the current budget.
Daudt said he expects at least $160 million more for long-term care spending, such as for nursing homes and home care for the elderly and disabled.
The Republican budget outline is expected to be followed on Thursday or Friday by a similar announcement by Democrats who control the Senate. Dayton released his budget plan Jan. 27 and updated it earlier this month.
Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, D-Cook, has said the Senate plan will include money to increase state budget reserves. House Republicans want to put $100 million in the bank, and Dayton would not increase reserves.
Bakk also said the Senate will propose increasing state aid to cities and counties. Daudt said he did not know how much, if any, Republicans will increase local aid. Dayton would provide more local money through railroad property tax increases.
Knoblach said Republicans do not think the state should borrow money for public works projects this year, but plan to seek $800 million next year. Dayton wants to authorize $850 million this year.
The budget plan introduced Tuesday is for programs funded by state money. An all-funds budget that includes federal and other revenue is much larger.
A nonpartisan report puts current spending at $39.3 billion, with a budget for the next two years of $41.1 billion based on law. Dayton proposes a $43 billion budget.
While Republicans say their budget is for $40 billion, the nonpartisan summary sets the price tag at $42.6 billion.

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