Senator Sean Nienow
State Senator, District 17
As I write this, there is not yet a final state budget mutually agreed upon by the Governor and Legislature. It will certainly be nice if there is one when this goes to print. However, here is where the situation stands right now…
Governor Dayton is currently proposing a state budget of $36 billion, which would include multiple tax increases totaling about $2 billion of tax increases. The Governor’s proposal would increase state spending roughly 15 percent more than we spend in the current budget.
A large majority of Legislators were elected in 2010 pledging to constituents they would balance the State budget using only the resources our State tax revenue professionals said we had available – $32 billion. Earlier this year taxes coming into the state increased about $2 billion and the Legislature agreed to compromise up from that initial $32 billion and include additional tax revenue in our budget proposal. So now the legislature is currently proposing a budget of $34 billion – about 6 percent more than what we are currently spending.
We are currently spending (in the budget ending June 30) roughly $32 billion in total.
The current budget is spending $32 billion. The Governor proposes spending $36 billion in the Next budget. The halfway point between 32 and 36 is… 34. The Legislature’s budget proposal uses that number: $34 billion. We agreed to include $2 billion of increased tax revenue, and our proposal is exactly at the midway point between the last budget and the Governor’s current proposal. Unfortunately, the Governor does not view that as a compromise position. To quote the Governor in a video press conference currently on MN Public Radio’s website: “I am not going to agree to anything, until I agree to everything” and went on to clearly state in no uncertain terms that he prefers a state government shutdown, to adopting the Legislative budget and only increase spending 6 percent.
If there is not full agreement by June 30, what then? Well there does not need to be a state government shutdown. I have proposed a “Third Way” to guarantee no shutdown. By the time this is printed I will have sent a letter to Gov Dayton proposing this, to guarantee state operations. What I will propose is to continue current funding levels at something around 90 percent until an agreement is reached. This will accomplish two things 1) it will guarantee that state government stays operational and state employees stay on the job and 2) it will still maintain pressure on the Governor and Legislators to negotiate a final budget solution.
Ultimately we need a final agreement, but if that takes a timeframe that goes beyond June 30 we do not need to have a government shutdown. My proposal will prevent that, but we cannot pass my bill unless the Governor chooses to call the Legislature back into a special session. If there is not a budget very soon, I hope he does that to pass my bill.
I welcome hearing from you on this or any other topic – any time! You can call me at 651-296-5419, or email me at Sen.Sean.Nienow@senate.mn.