Don Davis, Forum News Service, Published March 12 2012
Dayton suggests $60 million budget tweakST. PAUL – Gov. Mark Dayton wants to tweak the state budget to return some funding to emergency health care programs for the poor, enact programs to produce jobs and fight an invasion of Asian carp.
In all, the Democratic governor on Monday called for $60 million more spending in the current two-year budget, funded by increasing fees and closing what he calls loopholes in corporate tax law.
Highlights of the governor’s plan:
- $35 million to give a tax credit to employers who employ veterans, students and unemployed Minnesotans.
- $2 million to increase veterans programs spending.
- $17 million to restore some health care funding for the poor – especially emergency care such as chemotherapy and dialysis – that was cut last year. About 1,000 Minnesotans would receive added emergency benefits.
- $4 million more to fight invasive Asian carp.
- $3 million to keep the Willmar Specialty Health Systems facility open through June 30, 2013. Its funding is now slated to end at the end of this month.
- $542,000 for the White Earth Nation human services programs.
For much of the increased spending, Dayton would do what many Democrats have proposed: reduce tax breaks corporations with foreign operations may receive.
Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem, R-Rochester, issued a strongly worded statement: “Gov. Dayton’s supplemental budget is a surprise and a shock. We have managed Minnesota’s budget well in the past year, from a $5 billion budget deficit to over a $1 billion surplus, and the first thing the governor wants to do is raise taxes. Embarrassing.”
The plan would fund fighting Asian carp by raising hunting, fishing and boat fees.
A group of conservation organizations will announce Tuesday that they support raising hunting and fishing fees. The state’s Game and Fish Fund will go into deficit next year without new revenues.
The state’s two-year budget tops $30 billion.
Stadium bill ready
A bill to finance a new Vikings stadium was officially introduced in the House and Senate on Monday, and the first committee hearing could come Wednesday.
The bill, first released on Friday, would fund a $975 million stadium on the current Metrodome site in downtown Minneapolis.
Since Friday, some lawmakers are concerned that the bill would use the state’s general fund to repay stadium construction costs if pull tabs and bingo do not bring in as much state revenue as expected.
There also is a question about whether the Minneapolis City Council supports the plan, which for many is a requirement.
Joining Rep. Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead, on the House version of the bill are Reps. Terry Morrow, DFL-St. Peter; Rod Hamilton, R-Mountain Lake; Michael Nelson, DFL-Brooklyn Park; Greg Davids, R-Preston; Leon Lillie, DFL-North St. Paul; Paul Anderson, R-Starbuck; and John Kriesel, R-Cottage Grove.
In the Senate, Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont is the main sponsor.
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Don Davis reports for Forum Communications Co.