Minnesota House DFL announces budget priorities
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Minnesota House DFL leaders announced their budget proposal’s framework and priorities on Tuesday and made it clear they will focus on helping those hurt most during the pandemic.
"We’re raising signifcant progressive revenue in this budget and making important ongoing investments in areas like education, health care and economic security," DFL House Speaker Melissa Hortman said during a virtual news conference.
The House DFL priorities include:
- Significant increases for education and child care funding,
- Support for students, families and small businesses,
- Investments to improve economic security, such as paid family leave, earned sick and safe time, affordable housing and worker protection and support.
"The pandemic has been difficult for everyone, but some Minnesotans have been hit harder than others. Our budget will focus on helping those most impacted by COVID — students, workers, families, and small businesses," Hortman said. "We have to help Minnesotans recover from the pandemic and then thrive once it’s behind us. Together, we have to ensure that Minnesota is a state where everyone has economic security and opportunities to succeed."
House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt responded to the proposal by saying, "Instead of helping struggling workers and businesses, Democrats are prioritizing tax hikes and growing government. Their budget targets are a fantasy, and their budget bills will be built on tax increases that will never happen. We have a $1.6 billion surplus, and $8 billion coming from the federal government — it’s tone-deaf to be pushing for tax increases on struggling Minnesotans when government is flush with cash."
The House DFL won’t reveal their tax bill until early April, but they left no doubt there will be tax increases on wealthy Minnesotans and corporations so low and middle-income taxpayers and small businesses can get tax cuts.
"There certainly will be tax cuts to individuals and small businesses…and unemployment insurance and aid we’re going to pay for that with progressive ongoing revenue," said House Tax Committee Chairman Paul Marquardt, DFL-Dilworth.
Governor Tim Walz said much the same thing when releasing his revised budget proposal last week calling for a $670 million in tax increase on the wealthiest Minnesotans in a new 5th tier income tax bracket and raising the corporate franchise tax. He would couple that with $1 billion in tax cuts for small businesses and lower income taxpayers.
Senate Republican Majority Leader Paul Gazelka says his caucus will not approve tax increases.
"We told the governor were’ not going to raise taxes, and guess what, House? We will not raise taxes," Gazelka said in a statement released Tuesday afternoon. He says the state has a projected $1.6 billion surplus and $2.6 billion more coming in federal stimulus money.
The House DFL budget target of $52.5 billion is the highest among the three major plans, a bit higher than the $52.3 billion proposed by the governor and significantly higher than the $51.9 billion proposal from Senate Republicans.
They have until the third week in May to reach a compromise during the regular session of the legislature.