Despite fighting Minnesota Republicans in court over tax cuts he called “excessive”, Governor Mark Dayton is not laying the blame on them for the state’s projected $188 million dollar deficit over the next 18 months. However, House Minority Leader Melissa Hortman (DFL) was quick to blame the GOP.
“Elections have consequences, and when Minnesotans switched control of the legislature to 100% Republican control, we went from a $1.6 billion surplus to a $188 million deficit in a little bit less than a year,” Hortman said. “Hopefully people will keep that in mind as we move into 2018.”
The state’s deficit is the result of several factors:increased spending on transportation and health care that had bipartisan support, Republican-authored tax cuts including cutting taxes on tobacco, Congressional refusal to fund the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and a projected slowing of the economy.
Dayton said the reasons for the deficit were “complex” and you couldn’t put the blame on any one isolated piece of it, including the GOP tax cuts. Dayton vetoed the legislature’s operating budget as a way to force them to renegotiate those tax cuts. The GOP went to court and lost over that issue, but the two sides have not yet come to an agreement.
Hortman: Dayton “Completely Vindicated”
Video above: DFL and MN GOP legislative leaders react to deficit news
Videos at bottom: Budget Commissioner Myron Frans delivers the budget forecast
Governor Mark Dayton answers questions about the deficit
Hortman said Governor Dayton was “very kind” to not criticize Republicans for the deficit because Dayton was “completely vindicated” in his demand that MN GOP leaders scale back their tax cuts. “He really pushed hard on the Republicans at the end of session to not do the giveaways to corporations and the super rich and to the tobacco companies.” Hortman says if the legislature passed a “reasonable” tax cut bill instead of a “super sized” one “we probably wouldn’t be in this trouble right now.
Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazleka said that Republicans will not give back those tax cuts. Governor Dayton did sign them because a “poison pill” provision would have defunded the state’s revenue department if he didn’t, potentially putting many state employees out of work and crippling the state’s ability to collect taxes.
House Speaker Kurt Daudt says if the Republican tax cut bill in Congress passes, Minnesota will see increased economic growth and will not have a deficit. “We know that tax cuts are good for the economy. That’s a basic economic principle”
Hortman disputed Daudt’s assessment. She says the preliminary assessments of the Republican tax bill is that it would increase taxes on Minnesota families. “It would be a massive tax cut for the super rich, but the way that it’s structure they would actually increase taxes on Minnesotans.”
Republicans blamed government spending, which they approved, as the main cause for the deficit. Rep. Jim Knoblach singled out the Health and Human Services budget for “gobbling up” the budget.
Hortman disagrees. “I just don’t think it’s an option not to take care of senior citizens in Minnesota when they’re in nursing homes or to not take care of children with disabilities or to not take care of our roads. So certainly there is spending but it is responsible spending that’s required to keep our state strong.”
Budget Forecast Presentation:
Governor Mark Dayton News Conference: