Hello from St. Paul,
The final week of April became budget bill week in the Minnesota House. With a $9.3 billion budget surplus, the House Democrat majority made decisions on what it would like to do with that excess revenue. For the most part, it wants to spend it.
In their updated budget targets, the House majority unveiled a $7.4 billion increase in state government spending (using the majority of the surplus). If their plan was signed into law, Minnesota would spend $59 billion during this current budget cycle.
A number of those increased spending priorities made their way to the House floor this week. Supplemental budget proposals in the areas of Legacy funding, agriculture finance, housing, broadband, state government, transportation, veterans, pensions, education finance, environment, and higher education all were presented and approved by the House majority. The remainder of their supplemental budget will be debated in the coming days.
As I review these spending proposals, I can’t help but notice that some areas that actually need prioritization are being ignored in the Minnesota House. For example, the House approved the supplemental ag finance spending bill, yet it included no money for farmers who continue to seek drought relief funding due to last summer’s lack of rainfall.
But what’s really striking to me is the difference on tax relief between the House and the Senate. The Senate has already approved a bill that would utilize a significant portion of our budget surplus and provide permanent tax relief to Minnesotans. In the House, the majority’s bill as it currently stands would not provide any tax rate cuts to anyone, although it would provide several tax credits.
As always, the House and Senate will need to work out their differences. Conference committees made up of an equal number of representatives and senators will be tasked with crafting compromise legislation that can be approved by both legislative bodies. Hopefully when those negotiations have ended, we will have a plan that allows hardworking Minnesotans to keep more of their hard-earned money.
Have a good weekend,