standing up to Republicans over the state budget.
The Democrats want to fix the budget by raising $1.8 billion of revenue through tax increases on the wealthiest Minnesotans (singles making $150,000+ per year; couples making $250,000+ per year) and by cutting specified areas, such as slightly decreasing the funding of the University of Minnesota and MnSCU. By contrast, the Republicans want to achieve balance by making much more drastic cuts to government services. Amongst a variety of other unpleasant measures, the Republican plan includes deep cuts to state aid, a 6% cut to advocacy programs to abused children and minor parents, a 15% reduction in the state workforce, and a $48 million cut to special education (but who really cares about all that stuff, am I right?).In fact, Gov. Mark Dayton's (D) proposed $35.8 billion two-year budget is a reduction from his initial proposal of $37 billion. But that compromise on his part was not enough for his state's Republican-controlled legislature, which is following the recently-invented Republican tradition of never, ever compromising. Last week, Dayton wrote to Republican leaders:
Your offer last Thursday was extremely disappointing. It provided no increase to your proposed state budget of $34 billion for the next biennium. Over a month ago, on May 16, I offered to compromise and meet you half-way between our two budgets. You rejected that offer, and you continue to insist that I agree entirely to your position. That is neither reasonable nor responsible.. Your continuing unwillingness to compromise will make it impossible for us to reach a fair and balanced solution by June 30.On Sunday, budget talks appeared to end abruptly, but resumed Monday afternoon. Both sides have agreed to keep the details of their negotiations private, but on Tuesday, their vague comments seemed to indicate little progress but continuing willingness to negotiate.
Your offer last Thursday to rearrange your priorities from tax reductions to support for education, public safety, and other essential services, is an improvement to your budget. You are welcome to do so, although it does nothing to alleviate the severe cuts your $34 billion budget would impose on so many Minnesotans.
However, your proposal that I agree to forego my $1.8 billion in increased tax revenues, which come entirely from closing corporate tax loopholes and raising income taxes on only 2% of Minnesota’s highest income earners, in return for your foregoing $200 million in tax cuts, is so obviously inequitable as to be absurd. It shows once again how unreasonable and unrealistic your negotiating tactics are.
Minnesota's wealthiest 1% pay a lower percent of their income in state and local taxes than the state average. Preserving that is something Minnesota Republicans are willing to shut state government down for. Good for Dayton for not caving so far, and here's hoping he doesn't.