The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

March 14, 2013

Dayton draws Minnesota tax debate into sharper focus



House Speaker Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, echoed his counterpart on the income tax, showing a path to the session's end game.

"What we're going to be using it for is something Minnesotans really want and that's investment in education in this state, something we have been falling behind on," Thissen said.

The House and Senate Democratic leaders will release their own budget framework next week. House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt of Crown said Republicans haven't decided whether they will present a detailed alternative.

"Right now we hope that we can still roll up our sleeves and work with the Democrats to come up with a bipartisan budget, but we think this one falls short of that," Daudt said.

Like Dayton's initial two-year, $38 billion proposal, the bulk of the new spending would flow to education He recommends making all-day kindergarten more widely available, increasing the basic per-pupil allowance for schools and supplying public colleges with their first state aid increases in years.

Dayton doesn't move to rapidly pay off past IOUs to schools; the state deferred aid to districts in an accounting maneuver to shrink prior deficits and still owes them more than $800 million. Top House Democrats have said they want to fully address the back pay sooner.

Another major change to Dayton's budget is on the property tax side. Dayton removed his call for a $500 per homeowner property tax rebate. But he added more money to a program that gives tax breaks to many renters. He said he would push to fully fund a program that provides income-based property tax refunds for homeowners.

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