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DFL reveals new budget plan – how does it compare with Dayton, GOP proposals?

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Could we have some middle ground in the budget battle?

Democrat leaders in Minnesota's Senate revealed their budget target Friday morning, landing in a spot nestled between the two other combatants it's dealing with – Gov. Mark Dayton and the state's House GOP leaders.

In terms of total spending it looks like a middle ground. The details show a slightly wider gap.

The Senate DFL budget target's total spending for the 2015-16 budget period would be about $42.73 billion.

On the higher end, there's fellow-Democrat Dayton, whose proposal called for $42.98 billion in spending.

And on down below is the House GOP, which is pushing for $42.58 billion in total cost. (That's a combination of $40 billion in spending, plus tax cuts and a transportation plan to reach the number. The Associated Press explains the accounting distinction here,)

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“The Senate is charting the middle ground between the House Republican budget targets and Gov. Dayton’s budget recommendations," Senate Majority leader Tom Bakk, a Democrat from Cook, said in a statement. "We share many of the same priories as the House and Governor and have intentionally taken a balanced and measured approach to tax cuts, spending and prioritized dedicating some additional revenue to the budget reserve.”

But the DFLers' plan swings much closer to Dayton's than the GOP proposal.

OK, so what are the differences?

First of all, it's important to note that all three sides here are dealing with a $1.9 billion projected budget surplus. So all three entities are essentially answering the question, "What should we do with this money?"

Though the DFL and GOP plans are sort of vague outlines, the biggest difference right away is tax cuts.

The Senate DFL's proposal would give out more than $200 million in tax breaks, similar to Dayton's number, MPR says. The House GOP plan pushes forth $2 billion in tax relief, though the party hasn't finalized exactly how that relief will be implemented.

Then there's the so-called Rainy Day fund, basically an account with extra money in case of emergency.

The GOP's plan puts $100 million into those reserves. The Senate DFL wants to set aside $250 million, and Dayton's proposal doesn't mention adding any additional funds to the reserves.

Then there's education spending.

The DFL plans calls for $555 million to be spend on E-12 and higher education, while Dayton is at $518 million for 2016-17. The GOP plan, MinnPost says, sets aside about $300 million additional dollars for education.

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