This week, the Minnesota House and Senate have been approving budget bills and sending them to Governor Dayton for his review, and hopefully his signature.
While the governor has had lukewarm interest at best in trying to find a budget compromise with the Legislature and even indicating he will veto the bills, I can tell you representatives and senators are focused on getting the job done. Minnesotans sent us here to pass a budget, and that’s exactly what we’re doing. Just because the governor isn’t quite ready to negotiate doesn’t mean state lawmakers should sit on their hands and wait.
To be clear, as a separate branch of government it is our responsibility to bring a budget proposal forward with the bills we pass. And the bills we are approving will positively impact the lives of Minnesotans.
As an example, take our $1.15 billion middle-class tax relief package. Under this proposal, nearly 322,000 senior citizen tax returns (single and married filing jointly) would receive tax reductions. 65,000 students will receive an average of a $414 reduction in their taxes through a tax credit for student loan payments. Approximately 240,000 farmers could receive property tax relief to reduce their disproportionate share of school district debt service. A family of four making $50,000 a year will receive an additional $1,200 towards their child care expenses.
I know that we need to negotiate with the governor, and we need him to participate. I also know the governor’s strength is always in the last week of session. We are strongly encouraging Governor Dayton to sign these budget proposals, but if he were to veto one of our bills then he will send us information about why he opposes it. If that happens, we will have an idea where we need to continue our negotiations and get the bill signed into law. With more than 10 days remaining in session, we still have plenty of time.
Negotiating a budget compromise is a lot like putting a jigsaw puzzle together. When one piece is carved differently, then all of the other pieces have to be adjusted. But ultimately, we want to make sure we pass legislation that is the best for the State of Minnesota.