ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — Minnesota’s top Republican leaders proposed Tuesday a budget that includes $2 billion in tax cuts.

That’s about the size of the state’s surplus that the Gov. Mark Dayton wants to spend, in part, on education.

Republicans claim government spending is growing faster than family budgets. They are proposing a two-year spending plan worth $40 billion – that’s $3 billion less than Dayton’s proposal.

“Minnesotans prioritize their budgets every day,” said Rep. Joyce Peppin, R-Rogers, the House Majority Leader. “They have to live by a family budget, and it only makes sense that government should have to do the same thing.”

The Republican budget spends less than the governor’s in key areas, including early through 12th grade education, the state government, and especially human services programs for the poor.

“Now we have a surplus, and they are choosing to make cuts, significant cuts, in health and human services,” said Rep. Erin Murphy, DFL-St. Paul. “We have such a significant surplus. Why would we see cuts to people with disabilities?”

Republicans are promising $2 billion in unspecified tax relief, but say it will not come in rebate checks directly to taxpayers as it has been done in the past.

“Sending checks back is not something that we are really considering,” said Minnesota House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown. “We will likely target tax relief to help out Minnesota families.”

Democratic leaders predict GOP tax cuts will go disproportionately to businesses. They called it a “recipe for a government shutdown.”

“The Republicans were given a $2 billion budget surplus on a silver platter,” said DFL House Minority Leader Paul Thissen, “and now they want to give it all back to corporate special interests with a silver spoon.”

Pat Kessler