DFL, Republicans can't agree on state budget, blame each other

The GOP wants the DFL to budge on taxes, the DFL wants the GOP to budge on spending.
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Negotiations between Democrats and Republicans in the Minnesota Legislature over the next two-year budget bore no fruit on Monday evening.

Leaders from the GOP-controlled Senate and the DFL-controlled House spent hours trying to hash out the differences between their own respective budgets, as well as the budget proposed by DFL Governor Tim Walz.

There had been hopes of fewer roadblocks ahead of this year's budget negotiations, with both Walz and GOP Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka striking a more conciliatory tone as they expressed a desire to work towards an accord.

But the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry, so it was little surprise that they reached an impasse, and even less of a surprise that each party blamed the other.

In short, GOP Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka said that the Democrats refused to budge "even ONE CENT" on the proposed tax hikes in their respective budget plans, which includes a 20 cent gas tax increase over the next 4 years.

Meanwhile, the House Democrats say they were willing to reduce their own planned general fund spending by $664 million if the Senate GOP increased theirs by $332 million, but said the Republicans "offered a $0 increase in total general fund spending."

It came after Walz said he'd drop his own spending plans by $200 million (the House dropping its plans by $664M to match him) if he could keep the 2 percent tax on medical providers as well as the gas tax hike to close the $6 billion gap in transportation funding over the next decade.

There is little desire among Republicans to approve a gas tax hike, but the Pioneer Press reports the GOP did offer a 12 percent spending increase for E-12 education compared to what they initially proposed.

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Walz's proposed gas tax hike has proven controversial, not least with the state's own Department of Revenue saying it would disproportionately impact lower earners despite Walz seeking to mitigate the impact with increase working family tax credits.

However, Walz's office has argued that lower earners would see more benefits from the increased spending on education, healthcare and housing.

Fortunately, unlike previous years in which budgets were seemingly left to the last minute, there are still two weeks left in the legislative session for both sides to come to an agreement.

You can read the GOP Senate budget here.

You can read Gov. Tim Walz's budget here.

You can read the DFL House budget targets here.

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