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Dayton lays out budget change proposals

ST. PAUL -- Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton proposes increasing budgets for items ranging from pre-kindergarten programs to broadband to security needs.Dayton on Tuesday announced changes he wants to make in a $42 billion, two-year budget he and legis...

Joyce Peppin
Minnesota House Majority Leader Joyce Peppin of Rogers reacts Tuesday to Gov. Mark Dayton’s proposal to up spending $700 million. Behind her is House Speaker Kurt Daudt of Crown. (DON DAVIS | FORUM NEWS SERVICE)

ST. PAUL - Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton proposes increasing budgets for items ranging from pre-kindergarten programs to broadband to security needs.
Dayton on Tuesday announced changes he wants to make in a $42 billion, two-year budget he and legislators approved last year. The most important items, he said, are to increase security in the troubled St. Peter and Anoka state hospitals, as well as adding personnel to the Corrections Department.
The Democratic governor said his top priority in writing his amended budget plan was to be “fiscally responsible.”
Dayton would provide $411 million more in one-time spending, such as $100 million to expand broadband high-speed Internet in rural Minnesota. His $698 million plan includes $287 million on ongoing spending. He also proposes $117 million in tax reductions, which he said is centered on middle-income families.
On the spending side, matching the $100 million in broadband spending is $100 million he wants to help improve the financial standing of people of color.
Dayton said he scaled back one of his favorite projects: implementing pre-kindergarten classes statewide. He reduced his request from making it mandatory to allowing it to be voluntary in schools that desire expanding classes to 4-year-olds.
Several things Dayton wanted to propose were scaled back or eliminated when state officials learned last month that a budget surplus slipped from $1.2 billion to $900 million.
“The lower forecast was a warning shot across all of our bows,” he said.
The Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities praised the Dayton budget plan, especially the proposal to pump $21.5 million into Local Government Aid cities receive.
“This is a shot in the arm for cities across the state,” said Le Sueur Mayor Robert Broeder, coalition president. “The governor is making a wise decision by choosing to invest some of the surplus money into programs like LGA that help keep our state healthy and poised for a bright future.”
Republicans were not impressed with the Dayton budget proposals.
“The two things that didn’t get done in the 2015 budget were tax cuts and transportation funding,” Senate Minority Leader David Hann, R-Eden Prairie, said. “Today the governor’s supplemental budget includes only $13 million for roads and very little for tax cuts. Once again, Gov. Dayton’s priorities are completely out of whack.”
The governor said he sticks to his 2015 transportation plan, which includes a new gasoline tax. He proposes a variety of tax cuts, such as for Minnesotans who use child care, but opposes business tax cuts that he said Republicans want.
Dayton said that the Legislature needs to immediately approve an unemployment benefit extension for laid-off Iron Range workers who have run out of benefits after northeast Minnesota mines temporarily or permanently closed.
On Tuesday, he pledged to sign a bill that includes the benefit extension, even if legislation contains other provisions.
“The Senate and the House have to work it out...” he said. “I will swallow what else they agree to.”
Republicans want to fold into the unemployment bill a measure to reform a trust fund that provides money for the benefits. The GOP proposes crediting businesses that pay into the fund more than $250 million.
Dayton, Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk and many other Democrats have said they do not want the “business tax cut” included in the initial legislation, but could support it in a separate bill.
“The emphasis is get it done, get it done now,” the governor said.

Governor’s budget proposal

Spending increases the governor proposes in state government for the next year in the state’s existing, $42 billion, two-year budget:

  • Tax reductions: $117 million
  • Broadband: $100 million
  • Courts: $23 million
  • Corrections: $34 million
  • Cyber security: $46 million
  • Department of Human Services: $19 million
  • Bond repayment for public works: $21 million
  • Education and early learning: $77 million
  • Racial equity: $100 million
  • Higher education: $56 million
  • Local Government Aid: County Program Aid: $47 million
  • Other agency spending: $44 million
  • Transportation: $14 million
  • Total: $698 million
  • Remaining balance: $202 million
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