Yesterday, Gov. Mark Dayton presented his plan to deal with the stateâÄôs $6.2 billion budget shortfall. In his own words to reporters, âÄúThis is a very tough budget for very hard economic times.âÄù
While it may be a budget for tough economic times, it is certainly not a proposal for tough political times.
Several facets of the budget plan âÄî modest cuts to higher education, delayed repayment of the money âÄúshiftedâÄù by former Gov. Tim Pawlenty from school districts to the state and cuts to heath care programs âÄî are unavoidable.
Others âÄî including a funding increase for K-12 education and a proposal to close the loophole for âÄúsnowbirdsâÄù who spend exactly five months and 28 days each year in Minnesota in order to file their income taxes in other states âÄî seem like sound policy choices.
However, DaytonâÄôs proposed tax increases are dead on arrival in the Republican-controlled Legislature. Even if it were advantageous to raise taxes to these high levels, the current Legislature will never go along with them. Therefore, they are not a practical solution to the stateâÄôs budget shortfall.
After having their own budget-trimming bill vetoed by Dayton and having seen DaytonâÄôs budget proposal, it is up to the Legislature to make the next move.
Republicans must either work with Dayton to reach a compromise on his proposals, or they must present their own comprehensive solution to MinnesotaâÄôs budget deficit.
Either way, both sides have shown where their priorities lie. It is the duty of both the governor and the Legislature to seek to reach a compromise. Together they must develop a plan to end MinnesotaâÄôs budget deficit as quickly and painlessly as possible.