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House DFL outlines $47.8 billion 2020-21 spending proposal

House DFL leaders and legislators announce committee targets and the framework for its Minnesota Values Budget at a press conference March 25. Photo by Andrew VonBank

House DFLers released their proposed budget for the upcoming biennium Monday, a $47.8 billion spending plan with significant investments in education, health care and public safety.

The plan, dubbed the “Minnesota Values Budget,” would increase spending by $416.9 million over the 2020-21 biennium’s projected base budget. The proposal details the financial targets House committees and divisions will use as they work to finalize this session’s budget bills.

The House Ways and Means Committee adopted the resolution Monday evening on a split-voice vote.

[WATCH Ways and Means Committee budget resolution hearing on YouTube]

Several Republicans opposed the proposal, including Rep. Paul Torkelson (R-Hanska) who took issue with a provision that would reduce the transportation committee budget target. Instead funding for transportation would come from a proposed 20-cent gas tax.

“None of us are talking about cutting the gas tax to zero,” he said. “Yet to switch our dependence from this very small amount in the General Fund … to total dependence on the gas tax is not a good long-term plan.”

Minnesota House Press Conference 3/25/19

Senate Republicans plan to reveal their budget targets Thursday afternoon.

Biggest investments in the House plan would be in education, increasing E-12 spending by $900 million, for a total of $20.5 billion in overall spending. Higher education would see a $300 million boost, geared toward freezing tuition at public colleges and universities.

The proposal is similar to Gov. Tim Walz’s budget recommendation, House Speaker Melissa Hortman (DFL-Brooklyn Park) explained during a press conference. However, she added that the House’s version is “more aggressive on tax fairness.”

“To fund needed investments in education and transportation, our budget closes corporate tax loopholes, asks the wealthy to pay their fair share and includes an increase in the gas tax,” she said. “It’s a responsible budget that leaves $600 million on the bottom line in the next biennium to make sure we’re prepared in the event of a future economic downtown.”

Other proposed increased spending, by committee, include:

  • $129 million in health and human services, totaling $15 billion in overall spending;
  • $121 million in public safety, totaling $1.5 billion in overall spending;
  • $103 million in state government, totaling $987 million in overall spending; and
  • $100 million in Greater Minnesota economic development, totaling $106 million in overall spending.

Proposed spending reductions, by committee, include:

  • $1.2 billion in net tax spending, bringing total spending to $2.5 billion; and
  • $425 million in transportation spending.

Relying on the forecasted $1 billion budget surplus over the next biennium won’t be sufficient to cover inflationary costs, Hortman said, let alone make new investments in programs.

“If we want to make new investments, if we want to strengthen Minnesota’s education system, and we should, we need new revenue,” she said.

In a statement, House Minority Leader Rep. Kurt Daudt (R-Crown) criticized the proposal. "Minnesota has a $1 billion surplus, and hundreds of million in fraud in our public welfare programs, but House Democrats answer is always the same: raise taxes, take more money, and make life more expensive for every family in Minnesota."

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