DFL lawmakers announced a nearly $300 million supplemental spending target on Thursday, which marks the beginning of a path forward on a budget, bonding and tax deal to close out the 2014 legislative session.
The House and Senate are currently working to hash out the differences between their two proposals, but the target gives lawmakers a framework to negotiate within. The House had initially proposed to spend $322 million of the state’s $1.2 billion surplus. The Senate came in much lower, at $209 million.
“We wouldn’t even be talking about a supplemental budget without the structured and balanced budget we passed last year,” Senate Finance Committee Chairman Richard Cohen said in a prepared statement. “Our aim is to put this money back into common sense priorities that support Minnesotans, including pay equity for residential care workers and enhanced early childhood education.”
The House and Senate agree in some areas, including $80 million for a 5 percent pay increase for home-care workers and $30 million to the Department of Corrections. But there are also key differences, such as spending on greater Minnesota broadband funding, toward which the House wants to devote $25 million. The Senate has no companion provision.
A target for a tax relief package is still forthcoming, but the informal bonding proposal’s target sits at about $200 million in cash, according to lawmakers working on the package. Unless Republicans relent, the bonding bills will likely sit at $850 million in borrowing.
Lawmakers have already cut taxes by roughly $450 million this session. They are currently debating a second round of cuts, which is awaiting an agreed-upon target.
The spending target includes a projected cost of $883.5 million in 2016-17.