As Senate DFL releases budget plan, Legislature ready for compromise – or impasse

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DFLers who lead the Minnesota Senate released their financial targets for revising Minnesota's budget Wednesday. Now they have a little more than a month to see if they can find common ground with House Republicans to forge a plan that Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton is willing to sign.

Compared to Dayton's proposed budget adjustments, Senate DFLers support more tax cuts and less spending. But the Senate is still closer to Dayton's plan than they are to the House proposal, which would devote a projected $900 million budget surplus to tax cuts and transportation funding with no other increases in net spending.

Overall, the Senate DFL plan would spend $789 million.

$300 million of that would be in tax relief. Other priorities include $91 million on programs aimed at reducing racial inequities in employment and education; $85 million expanding broadband Internet access; and a combined increase of $96 million for K-12 schools and higher education.

As the Star Tribune notes, Senate DFLers did not include money for a comprehensive package to upgrade roads, bridges, and transit.

Senate leaders, like Gov. Dayton, want a transportation plan to be funded with a gas tax increase. That's one of their biggest differences with the House, where Republicans want to transfer money from the general fund to road projects and supplement it with some of the surplus.

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DFL Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk tells MPR News there's not enough money available to pay for both a transportation package and tax cuts of the size Republicans want. But Republican House Majority Leader Joyce Peppin tells the network there is money for each – if lawmakers hold the line on other spending.

The House Republican plan earmarks no money to reduce racial disparities and includes no increase in education spending.

Their plan to expand broadband would spend $35 million over two years, the Associated Press reports.

While the Legislature is constitutionally required to adjourn on May 23, Forum News Service says finance bills must be passed by April 21.

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