The Minnesota House passed its first bill of 2011 early this evening. Sponsored by Rep. Mary Liz Holberg (R-Lakeville), HF130 would take a $1 billion slice out of the state’s projected $6.2 billion budget shortfall by cutting $181 million in spending in the current biennium and reducing Minnesota’s next two-year budget by $822 million. The House passed the bill 68-63. It now goes to the Senate, where Sen. Claire Robling (R-Jordan) is the sponsor.
“If anyone thinks we can balance this budget without making some reductions, you’re not living in reality,” said Rep. Jenifer Loon (R-Eden Prairie).
But Governor Mark Dayton suggested on Jan. 18 that he would veto this bill. “I will not agree to piecemeal cuts and partial solutions eliminating the $6.2 billion deficit in the next biennium. I will propose a reasonable, balanced and complete budget solution on February 15,” said the Governor.
DFL members argued that reductions would lead to higher property taxes and college tuition, and would further burden already strained human services programs that protect children and vulnerable adults. Many called the bill “reckless,” and said it had been rushed through the committee process without input from the public.
“I think that these cuts are reckless, I think that they are misguided, and I think we need to go through a deliberative process to figure out how we can make this work,” said Rep. Jeff Hayden (DFL-Mpls).
“This reckless Republican ‘Phase 1’ budget is a high-tax, high-tuition, high-risk bill that asks working Minnesotans to unfairly shoulder most of the budget burden,” said State DFL Chair Brian Melendez. “It is a piecemeal approach that will not responsibly address Minnesota’s budget problems in the long term and will simply pass the buck onto local government and local taxpayers.
“This bill could raise property taxes by $300 million and will slash critical services for our seniors, veterans, students and communities around the state. For everyday Minnesotans still struggling in these difficult economic times, this bill is a harsh burden.”
The Minnesota AFL-CIO echoed those sentiments, saying that the budget bill would hurt middle-class families.
“The legislators who voted for this bill are making middle-class families shoulder the burden of Minnesota’s revenue shortfall,” said AFL-CIO President Shar Knutson. “This legislation would mean even higher property taxes, more tuition increases, and more painful cuts to vital services like police and fire protection. … These are the same Tim Pawlenty-style policies that put Minnesota in our current fiscal crisis.”