Gov. Mark Dayton says Republican leaders in the Legislature are proposing “drastic” cuts to the budget while providing tax cuts to the wealthiest Minnesotans.
Leaders in the GOP-controlled Legislature revealed budget targets late last week as they aim to tackle a $5 billion budget deficit. The Republican targets cut the deepest from health and human services, local government aid, state agencies and higher education institutions. Republicans also proposed a omnibus tax bill that would provide $221 million in income tax breaks and $72 million in tax breaks through changes to the research and development tax credit.
Dayton made his first public comment responding to the targets and tax bill at a news conference Monday, saying Republicans were proposing “draconian” cuts that will hit senior citizens and public safety while forcing college tuition and property taxes to skyrocket. He added that low and middle income Minnesotans would see little money from the GOP’s tax cuts, while those making $250,000 or more would see the most benefit from the plan.
“Once again the Republicans just simply cannot help themselves by providing the richest Minnesotans with more benefits than they provide to middle income families and working Minnesotans,” he said. “I don’t know whether it’s that the legislators don’t understand what they are doing, or that they understand and they are not being candid with the people of Minnesota, and I don’t know which one is worse.”
Dayton called for more public hearings on the targets, and noted that the legislative session is at a halfway point. He said he hopes the Republican-led Legislature will meet him in the middle on a solution, but added that they seem to be moving away from a compromise. “It takes two to tango,” he said. “I’m not walking from my end zone to their end zone.”
Committees are taking up the GOP tax bill and budget targets this week as they race toward a March 25 deadline for all finance bills. Leadership has said members can expect some late nights this week.