MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Republicans controlling the Minnesota House and Senate unveiled Monday their biggest tax cut and spending plans of the year.
The sweeping plans are setting the stage for deciding exactly how much money will be in the budget for every single state program.
Minnesota’s state budget for the next two years is a record $45 billion, and lawmakers have only eight weeks to figure out how to allocate it.
In the Senate, Republicans revealed a 10-year transportation plan, saying that fixing roads and bridges is priority one.
“We really feel like roads and bridges have been neglected, and we are listening to the people of Minnesota,” said Sen. Paul Gaselka, the Senate Majority Leader. “We’re saying we’re gonna get that done.”
The Senate GOP is proposing to use existing auto parts taxes and heavy borrowing to fund roads and bridges without raising the gas tax.
But one big project is conspicuously absent – there’s no transit funding, including light rail.
“I personally have never been a big fan of light rail,” said Sen. Scott Newman, the Republican chair of the Transportation Finance and Policy Committee. “I think it is candidly 19th century technology in the 21st century.”
Democrats reacted swiftly, saying the GOP plan moves the state backwards and it won’t keep up with population trends.
“Almost 800,000 people moving to the metro area,” said Sen. Scott Dibble (DFL-Minneapolis). “I don’t know where on earth we are going to put those folks on our roads.”
Over in the House, the GOP is promising a focus on roads, education and health care.
Republicans are also pushing for $1.4 billion tax cut, including Social Security, farm property taxes, small business taxes, and tax credits for child care and college tuition.
“We’re calling this the Minnesota Way, which means identifying and funding priorities just like families do in their own budgets every day in Minnesota,” said Rep. Joyce Peppin, the House Majority Leader.