By Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield

ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — Republicans in the House and Senate say they’ve got a solid budget proposal in place.

But Democrats, especially the governor, aren’t so sure.

Republicans from the House and Senate presented their ideas this morning.

Their number one priority – offering Minnesotans $1.15 billion in tax relief. But the governor says that money could be used to strengthen other programs and he wants more money for transportation and pre-K.

When the gavel dropped four months ago, the energy was high and the expectations, realistic.

“I don’t think it’s gonna be easy, I’ve said all along I think this is gonna be a very contentious session because we have these very significant differences,” Gov. Mark Dayton predicted on Jan. 3.

Republicans want to pass $1.15 billion in tax relief.

“We’re gonna fight for it, we think it’s a good tax bill and we hope that the governor can be convinced of that just like our transportation bill, just like our education bill,” Senate majority leader Paul Gazelka said.

“We want to make sure that we put some money back in the pockets of Minnesotans. We’ve had record surpluses for some time now and it’s time that Minnesotans share in the prosperity that they’ve created for the state,” House Speaker Kurt Daudt said in a news conference.

Democrats are not so convinced.

“It doesn’t reflect the things that I’m hearing Minnesotans say, it does not reflect how do we get everybody into the economy, it does not reflect our transit priorities and how do we grow,” Sen. Jeff Hayden of Minneapolis said.

“Everything in their budget goes to tax cuts and, again, things like early childhood education, pre-Kindergarten, things I think are huge priorities really get short shrift or even cut,” Gov. Dayton said.

Dayton says he won’t accept any legislation concerning abortion or school vouchers but knows that the next three weeks will require compromise.

“We have some very major differences and we’re gonna have to spend some time resolving those,” he said.

The governor says it will happen, he points to the way the parties worked together to come up with the new healthcare bill.


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