Minnesota's new budget will likely include major cuts in spending, although the bills working their way through the Republican-controlled house and senate will probably have to be substantially amended before Democratic governor Mark Dayton agrees to sign them into law.
The goal is to make up for a $5 billion deficit, and provide a balanced budget for the next two years, reported the Post Bulletin.
Republicans want to solve the deficit purely through cuts in spending, according to Doug Grow at Minn Post. Cuts which made their way through the legislature this past week included $1.6 billion from proposed Department of Human Services spending and $400 million dollars from higher education. Nearly two thirds of the Department of Human Rights' budget would also be cut, as well as substantial DNR funding.
The cuts to health and human services would translate into repealing the expansion of Medical Assistance which Governor Dayton had planned in accordance with the new federal healthcare law, as well as forcing more than 100,000 low-income Minnesotans off of Medical Assistance and cutting coverage for eyeglasses, dentures, and prosthetics for adults, the Austin Post Bulletin reported.
The Minnesota Daily and Fox 21 reported that the cuts to higher education would be closer to $300 million, and Fox 21 framed the issue by pointing out that this was a vote to lower the budget of state run colleges from $2.8 billion to $2.5 billion. These would nevertheless be the largest reductions to higher education in state history, the Minnesota Daily reported.
Governor Dayton has proposed to balance the budget through a combination of spending cuts and tax raises, Grow reported for Minn Post in an earlier article. Dayton would like to see taxes raised for the top five percent of wage earners, which he argues would merely bring their tax rate up to match the middle class tax rate. The top five percent now pays taxes at a 9.3 percent rate; the lower 90 percent pays at a rate of 12.3 percent.
The disagreements ought to be worked out by May 23, the end of the legislative session, although some experts see no signs of compromise and doubt the deadline will be met, according to the Minnesota Daily.