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ST. PAUL – State Representative Bob Gunther (R-Fairmont) said he is puzzled by comments made recently by Governor Mark Dayton regarding how to turn Minnesota’s economy around.
Dayton criticized the Minnesota House for approving a plan that would trim Minnesota’s $6.2 billion budget deficit by $1 billion, then proposed borrowing $1 billion to fund construction projects across Minnesota.
“It appears we’re heading in opposite directions,” Gunther said. “The House is trying to eliminate some of the state’s debt, and the Governor is trying to add to it.”
On January 18, House Republicans unveiled an “early action” budget bill, which would eliminate the projected deficit by $1 billion. Last session, the Democrat-controlled legislature approved hundreds of millions in cuts to the budget – on a one time basis. One portion of this bill centers on making their previously established cuts permanent.
Other spending measures include removing millions in automatic increases set for next year; reducing funding for the Legislature, constitutional offices and other state agencies; permanently eliminating the taxpayer-subsidized Political Contribution Refund; and preventing a “Christmas in June” scenario where agencies spend whatever’s left in their budget on non-essential items in order to prove their future budgets shouldn’t be reduced.
Meanwhile, Governor Dayton encouraged the Legislature to borrow and spend $470 million on statewide construction projects, while he specifically identified proposals totaling $531 million that he felt needed immediate attention.
“We’ve borrowed $1 billion over the past few years on bonding projects that haven’t even been started,” Gunther said. “We owe $1 billion in debt service payments for previous bonding bills, and we have a $6.2 billion budget shortfall. Asking lawmakers to borrow another $1 billion in the face of Minnesota’s financial crisis just seems fiscally irresponsible.”
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