MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — With less than a month left until the legislative session, Republicans and Democratic Governor Tim Walz are putting their legislative proposals before the public.

The Governor today said he is looking to spend nearly half a billion dollars on higher education.

Republicans are calling for more modest spending, a tax cut and saying no to legalizing marijuana.

Minnesota is one of only 13 states that taxes social security benefits. That brings in $400 million a year to the state treasury.

Republicans want that to end.

“Let’s be one of those states that doesn’t tax our seniors when they have paid all the way through and now they have to pay again,” Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka said.

Another no from Senate Republicans:

“We are not going to do recreational marijuana,” Gazelka said.

That means while a bill on legal pot could pass the DFL controlled House, it’s going nowhere in the Republican Senate.

Republicans offered few specifics but say they will propose anti-crime measures aimed at felons carrying firearms.

“I am saying that crime is up and it’s not okay,” Gazelka said. “What are we going to do about it?”

Republicans also made it clear they are not on the same page with the Governor when it comes to a borrowing or spending bill. The governor said with a $1.3 billion surplus he would like to see a bill of about $2 billion. Republicans say they would be a lot more comfortable with a bonding bill closer to $1 billion.

“We have a proud tradition of being home to the greatest institutions in the world,” Governor Tim Walz said.

At Anoka Ramsey Community college, the Governor proposed nearly a half billion dollar in bonding projects to improve and update state colleges and Universities. As he toured a small lab area students explained how their nursing program, the second largest in the state, is badly overcrowded.

“That caused us to be outside in the hallway in order to get our lab hours, since there was just not enough space for us to do what we had to do,” nursing student Charles Osugo said.

In past years disagreements over how big to make the bonding bill has resulted in no bonding bill at all – leaving key infrastructure projects and programs unfunded. Republicans insist that won’t happen this year, that there will be a major spending bill passed, the only question is how big it will be.

The legislative session starts next month.

Esme Murphy

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