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New ads show MN GOP, House leaders not on same page with surplus

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A new television ad campaign from Minnesota's Republican Party urges policymakers to return all of the state budget surplus to taxpayers.

But the party's top lawmakers have not endorsed that idea. At least not yet.

Since Minnesota's late February economic forecast put the surplus for the upcoming two-year budget period at nearly $1.9 billion, ideas for how to use that money have circulated through the Capitol like sap flowing through a maple.

The one recommended by Republican Party Chair Keith Downey is a simple one: spend none of it, give all of it back to taxpayers.

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Downey's fellow party members who now hold leadership positions in the Minnesota House have described using the surplus differently – namely a combination of tax cuts and spending.

The Associated Press notes House Speaker Kurt Daudt has mentioned roads, schools, and nursing homes as possible uses, in addition to tax cuts.

Rep. Jim Knoblach, who chairs the main budget committee in the House, tells the Star Tribune Republicans will propose putting a significant part of the surplus toward tax relief but adds "I don't think anybody's talking about giving it back in the sense of giving people checks."

Meanwhile, some Republicans are second-guessing the party's decision to spend money on a new ad campaign rather than on retiring its debt, which the Star Tribune says is $1.4 million.

"I'm puzzled that they're focusing on that rather than getting us out of the red," Woodbury Rep. Kelly Fenton tells the newspaper.

MPR News says the state GOP is spending $150,000 on its new ad campaign.

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