DFL leaders in the Minnesota House on Monday laid out their budget priorities for the next couple of years, focusing on education, affordable health care, infrastructure, public safety and "fairer" taxes.
It is essentially an outline for how the party wants to spend money within the state's budget for 2020-21. Totaling just under $48 billion, the House DFL's budget targets include:
- An additional $900 million in education spending, bringing the total to $20.4 billion.
- An extra $300 million put toward higher education, in the form of tuition freezes at public colleges and universities, Session Daily says.
- A $100 million boost to economic development in Greater Minnesota - up from the $6 million it is slated to receive right now.
- $128 million more to the state's Health and Human Services department (totaling $15 billion).
- Another $121 million for public safety (pushing the total to $1.53 billion).
- And more than $600 million of unused money for padding.
“We should be honest about the choices in front of us,” said DFL Majority Leader Rep. Ryan Winkler in a statement. “We can continue down the path of tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy, leading to more teacher layoffs, potholes, and people losing health care and basic economic security. Or we can make honest investments in the things Minnesotans care about: affordable health care, great schools, and good and reliable roads, bridges, and transit."
The overall picture is a trimmed down version of what was proposed by DFL Gov. Tim Walz recently - which he made leaner after the state's projected budget surplus shrunk from $1.5 billion, to just over $1 billion.
Sure to add to the ongoing debate is the DFL's inclusion of a 20-cent gas tax to support transportation funding - something DFLers, Gov. Walz and Republicans have spent weeks arguing over.
Republican Rep. Kurt Daudt, the Minority Leader of the House, responded to the budget proposal by saying House Democrats' proposals are "always the same: raise taxes, take more money, and make life more expensive for every family in Minnesota."
Senate Republicans, who hold the majority in that chamber are slated to unveil their own budget targets Thursday, according to Session Daily.