$900 million budget cut headed to Dayton

The Republican-controlled Legislature has sent a $900 million package of spending cuts to Governor Dayton, who has repeatedly criticized the bill as “piecemeal” budgeting.

The Minnesota Senate passed the bill on a party line vote today 37-28. The House passed the same measure Wednesday.

The bill cuts spending on state aid to cities and counties, colleges and universities and social services programs. It also directs the Dayton administration to eliminate $100 million from current state agency budgets.

Republican Senator Julianne Ortman of Chanhassen said the bill is a reality check, and the first piece of a solution for a $6.2 billion state budget deficit.

“The reason to do it now is so that our budget deficit is reflected in our forecast, which comes out later this month,” Ortman said. “We can reduce it by almost $1 billion. I hope the executive branch will accept the reality check and accept this bill.”

Supporters say early action on a partial budget fix will influence the next state economic forecast and shrink the projected $6.2 billion budget deficit. But Senate Minority leader Tom Bakk said Republicans were poking the governor in the eye, by sending him a bill he doesn’t like and had no say in.

“If we’re going to get bills signed into law, the Legislature has to involve the executive branch,” Bakk said. “We can’t get anything into law without them. If we’re not going to involve them, then it’s just all theatrics, and we’re all just playing politics and we’re all just grandstanding. Exactly what the public doesn’t like.”

Bakk and other Democrats also say the bill will drive up local property taxes and college tuition. They also said the cuts were assembled with little public input.

Governor Dayton had repeatedly criticized the GOP bill as “piecemeal” budgeting but has refused to say whether he’ll veto the measure. Dayton will release his budget plan on Tuesday.

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