The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

January 22, 2013

Area legislators’ reaction to Dayton's proposal largely partisan

MANKATO — For south-central Minnesotans, the allure of Gov. Mark Dayton’s proposed budget could be determined with a few questions.

Do you smoke? Do you make big money? Do you buy a lot of higher-end clothes or do most of your purchasing on-line?

People answering yes to those questions should be prepared to pay higher taxes if the Democratic governor’s budget plan survives mostly intact as it moves through the Democratic Legislature.

Are property taxes your biggest pet peeve? Are you a college student? Are you somebody who would never pay $100 for a jacket or a pair of shoes?

An affirmative response to those questions probably means your taxes would decline under Dayton’s budget plan, which was released Tuesday and received a strongly positive response from Democratic lawmakers and a skeptical to hostile reaction from Republicans.

“There’s just a lot in here that’s fabulous,” said Sen. Kathy Sheran, DFL-Mankato.

Sheran mentioned the $500 property tax rebate that would go annually to most homeowners and farmers, the increase in aid to cities and counties that should provide further property tax relief, the freezing of state property taxes on business property, the 20 percent cut in the corporate tax rate.

She also talked about the $300 boost in the size of state grants to eligible college students, the $52 per student hike in the K-12 school formula and investments in health care programs that aim to reduce the rising cost of medical care.

Mostly, though, Sheran talked about how the budget is projected to actually eliminate the state’s recurrent red ink problem — not just push it off to the next budget cycle with accounting shifts and borrowing — and pay back over six years the state’s borrowing from K-12 schools.

The Legislature, even though it’s controlled by Democrats, will likely look to change many of the details of the tax changes and spending proposals in Dayton’s plan, she said. But she predicts that the final budget will honestly match spending and revenue.

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