Though Governor Dayton’s State of the State Address was filled with gloom, I held out hope that in the days prior to his unveiling of a balanced budget for Minnesota, he would recognize that with a $6.2 billion deficit, state spending had to be reduced in order for Minnesota to return fiscal solvency.
I did not expect the governor to propose the greatest tax increase proposal Minnesota has ever seen.
Despite the Legislature’s promise to eliminate the proposed budget deficit by cutting spending, Governor Dayton only found it necessary to recommend $485 million in net reductions over the next two years. However, he did follow through on his campaign promise to raise taxes. In this case, he wants them raised by $4.1 billion.
I was also disappointed in the governor for not reforming state spending as he had promised during his State of the State Address. In fact, with his budget expenditures, he almost insinuates that we don’t have any need to reform at all. How else to explain why the governor wants to increase spending from $32 billion in the current biennium to $37 billion for Fiscal Years 2012-13?
We can thank the governor for fulfilling his obligation of submitting a balanced budget to the Legislature. The problem is, with all of these tax hikes and increased spending proposals, Dayton knows this proposal will never see the light of day.
Frankly, I expected a bit more leadership from the Governor’s Office on this issue. He knows the Legislature wants to cut the budget, so why not identify areas of agreement between the two sides and begin eliminating our deficit in quick fashion? It appears he wants the Legislature to make the tough decisions and will not give us any further guidance – other than to raise taxes and get out of dodge.
In the end, maybe you and I shouldn’t be surprised with the governor’s plan. Governor Dayton is an unabashed liberal who campaigned to raise taxes, and his first budget would do exactly that. Your legislature has also promised to avoid tax increases when balancing this budget, simply because it’s fiscally responsible and the public demands it. With any luck, our balanced budget plan will be approved by the end of March, and then the negotiations with the Governor’s Office can begin.