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House Republicans outline $46.3 billion spending plan

By Ricky Campbell

House Republicans on Monday released their proposed budget for the upcoming biennium, a $46.3 billion spending plan that includes increases for health and human services, education, roads and bridges and $1.35 billion reduction in tax collections.

The proposed budget, a $4.5 billion increase over current spending levels, comes days after Gov. Mark Dayton adjusted his spending priorities to reflect a projected $1.65 billion surplus. Dubbed “The Minnesota Way,” the Republican plan also reduces spending to state agencies and reflects the $327 million in insurance premium relief passed earlier this year, along with $140 million for a reinsurance proposal making its way through the legislative process.

“We’re calling this ‘The Minnesota Way,’ which means identifying and finding priorities, just like families do in their own budgets every day in Minnesota,” said House Majority Leader Joyce Peppin (R-Rogers). “We’re very proud of it.”

Proposed increased spending, by committee, includes:

  • $1.96 billion in health and human services; totaling $13.7 billion in overall spending;
  • $1.1 billion in education; totaling $18.5 billion in overall spending; and
  • $308.7 million in transportation; totaling $586.6 million in overall spending.

Proposed spending reductions, by committee, include:

  • $430 million in state government and veterans, bringing total spending to $943.3 million; and
  • $105 million jobs growth and energy affordability, bringing total spending to $380 million.

House Speaker Kurt Daudt (R-Crown) said proposed tax cuts focus on middle-class families, students, elderly residents, agriculture and small businesses.

 “We know how hard they work to generate our state’s significant budget surplus, and for that reason, our budget represents a $1.35 billion tax cut that will go back into the pockets of Minnesota families,” Daudt said.

Since the session began in January, committees have heard hundreds of bills. Some of those bills will be lumped into giant legislative packages called an omnibus bills, and are expected to be voted on by the respective finance committees. These spending proposals must be approved by the committees by March 31.

“Overall we think we have a budget that meets the needs of Minnesotans,” Rep. Jim Knoblach (R-St. Cloud) said. “We’re trying to bend down the growth of government.”

Knoblach chairs the House Ways and Means Committee which is scheduled to hear testimony and consider the budget resolution at its Wednesday night meeting.

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