Emmer’s budget plan slashes from higher ed

In the last of the three candidates’ budget plans, Tom Emmer proposed about $400 mil. in cuts to higher education and nearly $500 mil. from K-12 education.

James Nord

Republican gubernatorial nominee Tom Emmer released the final portion of his plan to curb the state’s projected $5.8 billion deficit Tuesday. It includes about $400 million in cuts to higher education.

Spending levels in Emmer’s proposal are significantly lower than what the state projects are necessary.

But Emmer said the state’s unrealistic funding expectations forced him to chop from higher education.

“Government must start to live within its means,” he said, noting that families and businesses have had to do so already.

Emmer cited “issues with administrative costs” as another reason for the cuts.

“We’ll work out details with the two Legislative bodies and frankly with the leadership of the University and MnSCU,” he said.

The state projected $38.7 billion in spending for fiscal year 2012-13. Emmer proposed $32.3 billion, a nearly $6.5 billion reduction.

Under Emmer’s plan, spending would still increase from this biennium’s total of $30.7 billion by about $1.5 billion.

For certain sectors like higher education and local government aid, funding would be cut from current levels despite the overall increase.

Higher education funding in Emmer’s proposal would be $300 million lower than in this biennium, decreasing from $2.8 billion to $2.5 billion.

Other proposed cuts in projected spending include more than $500 million from K-12 education, $2.25 billion from health and human services and nearly $1.2 billion from government aid.

Local government aid should go to core services like public safety and water and sewer services, Emmer said.

Unique to Emmer’s overall plan is $626 million in tax cuts, which he proposed on Sept. 6.

“The only correct policy to solve Minnesota’s jobs deficit is to provide employers with tax relief so they reinvest in their businesses and hire new workers again,” Emmer said.

While Emmer took shots at his opponents’ proposals, DFL nominee Mark Dayton and Independence Party candidate Tom Horner have often criticized the Republican representative for the length of time he waited to release his plan.

Because both candidates faced a competitive primary, they were forced to release budget proposals much earlier than Emmer.

“Rep. Emmer’s plan will cut funding for higher education by 14 percent, K-12 education by 14 percent, and Local Government Aid by 33 percent,” Dayton spokeswoman Katharine Tinucci wrote in a statement. “He will thus cause huge increases in property taxes, higher college tuitions and seriously damage the quality of education throughout Minnesota.”

But, Dayton’s income tax proposal turned out to raise less revenue than he expected, according to analysis by the Minnesota Department of Revenue.

The Dayton campaign released its estimates Tuesday. The proposal, which would tack on a 10.95 percent rate to a new tax bracket, would raise roughly $1.9 billion in state revenue over the next biennium.

The new bracket would apply to individuals earning $130,000 a year and married couples making $150,000 yearly.

“These projections show that more work is needed to identify additional sources of revenues for making Minnesota’s state and local taxes more progressive, a promise that Mark Dayton will keep, if he is elected Governor,” Tinucci said in a statement.