ST. PAUL, Minn. – Minnesota House Republicans announced their budget plan Monday morning at a press conference, calling for $1.35 billion in tax cuts.
The budget proposal totals nearly $45 billion in spending for the 2018-19 fiscal year. This is a $3.21 billion, or 7.7 percent, increase over the 2016-17 fiscal year spending level. House Republicans broke their proposal down into eight categories, seven of which saw increases.
“Our budget puts Minnesota families first: it respects taxpayers and invests in key priorities like middle-class tax relief, improving our road and bridge infrastructure, and lowering health care costs,” House Majority Leader Joyce Peppin (R-Rogers) said.
“What’s the point of the Republican majority if this is what you get from it?” Jake Duesenberg said, “The best Republican plan is an eight percent increase in spending and they don’t even give back the whole surplus.”
Duesenberg is the President of Action for Liberty, a limited government advocacy group. He is critical of the plan not doing enough to curb the growth of government, especially in the area of education. He took issue with Republicans who criticized Democrats on the campaign trail for throwing money at a problem, and then going on to do the same thing themselves.
Health and Human Services receives the largest increase, at $2 billion. Education follows at $1.1 billion, with higher education getting a separate $138 million increase.
“We’re going to use the money that Minnesotans have given us to pay for things that Minnesotans expect us to pay for, like roads and bridges,” Speaker of the House Kurt Daudt (R-Crown) said.
Transportation is slated to rise from $278 million in 2016-17, to $587 million for 2018-19. This is an 111 percent increase.
House Republican leadership emphasized their plan for $1.35 billion in tax relief. They will not target a decrease in income taxes however. They anticipate Governor Dayton will not sign a tax bill with such provisions included. The bill will be going after some automatic inflationary tax increases, such as taxes on tobacco products.
“If Republicans truly believe what they say on the campaign trail, then they just started from the greatest position of weakness I have ever seen,” Duesenberg said, “They just started giving Mark Dayton everything he ever wanted except for a little bit.”
Dayton’s proposal uses much of Minnesota’s $1.65 billion surplus for new spending, saving $200 million as a buffer against uncertainties in federal funding. Minnesota Senate Republicans are calling for $900 million in tax relief, two-thirds of the total proposed by their House counterparts. Much of the Senate’s proposal is a permanent income tax cut for the lowest bracket, reports the Pioneer Press.
“If you just froze spending, then they can give back $5 billion to taxpayers,” Duesenberg said, “Many business that we deal with have to freeze spending all the time under certain economic conditions, but government never does.”