The 2011 Legislature passed a balanced budget before adjourning on May 23rd. Unfortunately, the next morning, Governor Dayton vetoed all the spending bills underlying the proposed budget and indicated that without a tax increase, there would be a “strong likelihood” of a government shutdown. A shutdown would be bad for everyone – the Legislature, the Governor, and most of all, for the citizens of Minnesota.
Summary of Budget Sent to Governor Dayton:
The balanced budget presented to the Governor increased General Fund spending by $3 billion, resulting in the largest budget in Minnesota history – all without a tax increase. It set priorities, included significant reform, and set us on a path toward sustainable future spending.
I felt this was a good compromise between our position and the Governor’s. Republicans wanted to cut spending. The Governor wanted to raise taxes. The budget we put on his desk was a compromise between those positions – it neither cut spending nor did it raise taxes.
After the Vetoes, a Legislative Compromise:
After the vetoes, members of the Legislature have been meeting with Governor Dayton or his top staff several times each week. On Monday, June 6th, we made a new offer to the Governor. We agreed to accept his proposed funding levels for K-12 education, public safety, and the courts. These three areas make up half the state’s budget. I felt it was a major move on our part to get half the budget off the table.
The Governor’s response to our offer was more of the same – basically, that we shouldn’t come back unless we are ready to raise taxes to spend more.
The current 2010-11 budget spends $31 billion in General Fund money from Minnesota taxpayers. The governor proposed spending $36 billion – a $5 billion increase! The budget we most recently submitted to the Governor was for $34 billion in expenditures, with no increase in taxes. The Governor has stuck with his $36 billion spending plan that would require an additional $1.8 billion in new taxes! The Legislature has already compromised and met the Governor more than 50% of the way.
I hope the Governor recognizes our compromise and realizes that there is truly no need for a tax increase. We can keep government operating without raising taxes!