The House revealed its budget targets recently, our blueprint for erasing our $5 billion budget shortfall and setting spending for the next two years.
This plan is helpful in allowing our state to make ends meet with available revenue, steering clear of tax increases and focusing on sticking with our priorities and creating a more efficient government. I think we can go even further to curtail government spending growth, but at least it's a start. Below are details in a news release the House sent late last week.
House Republicans Balance the Budget with No Tax Increases
“Lives within means, sets priorities and provides tax relief for families and businesses.”
SAINT PAUL – (March 10, 2011) – Saying their budget lives within means, protects families from tax increases and positions Minnesota for a strong economy recovery, Minnesota House Republicans today unveiled their budget targets for the FY2012-13 biennium.
“Our budget will help lead our state’s economic recovery,” said Speaker of the House Kurt Zellers. “Our solution is fiscally responsible, sets priorities, provides tax relief for families and businesses, and retools state government to focus on responsive performance, not good intentions.”
The House Republican $33.9 billion budget targets balance the budget with no tax increases, funds priorities while slowing the growth of spending, cuts $3.8 billion in future spending and provides lower and middle class tax relief.
It freezes state government employee wages for two years and implements the 15 percent reduction by 2015. It also reduces costs, re-aligns government to economic reality and re-designs Minnesota for a sustainable future.
“Setting the targets was by no means an easy task,” said Representative Mary Liz Holberg (R-Lakeville), Chair of the House Ways and Means Committee. “Our budget lives within the state’s means. It makes structural change that lays the foundation necessary for long-term reforms.”’
House Republicans said the use of the federal stimulus dollars added additional challenges to setting the budget targets
“The budget challenges we face today are not new or unexpected. Using federal stimulus dollars with no back-up plan was irresponsible,” Holberg said. “Minnesota families and businesses should not be left holding the bag. Our budget represents those people. We made tough decisions that should have been made two years ago.”
The House Republican Budget also provides $300 million in tax relief to Minnesotans.
“After decades of uncontrolled growth, we don’t need to raise taxes. A key element of economic recovery is putting more money back into the economy,” said House Majority Leader Matt Dean. “The best way to do that is to put it into the hands of the taxpayers. Our budget provides tax relief to lower and middle income Minnesotans.”
House Republicans said a critical element of their finance bills will be a strong focus on government reform. Some initiatives being considered are welfare reform, integrated eligibility and the Healthy Minnesota contribution program in Health and Human Services, teacher evaluation and early graduation incentives in education, and tax analytics and business intelligence, sunset commission, and consolidation of back office, technology and fleet in State Government.
“We want to improve service through reform and innovation, not just reward good intentions,” Speaker Zellers said. “We have the tools to enable government to change how it operates, rebuild public trust, and transform the state for a strong economic future.”
The House Ways and Means Committee will vote on the budget targets on Monday, March 14. The House Finance Committees will vote their bills out of committee by midnight on March 25.