UPDATE: Walz proposes $49 billion budget for MInnesota

Proposal unveiled Tuesday includes a gas tax hike.

Posted: Feb 19, 2019 1:17 PM
Updated: Feb 19, 2019 7:05 PM

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Gov. Tim Walz proposed a $49 billion "Budget for One Minnesota" on Tuesday that raises the state gas tax 20 cents to pay for road and bridge improvements and includes significant increases in spending on education.

In his first budget proposal, the new Democratic governor called for $733 million in new spending on pre-kindergarten through 12th grade education over the next two years. That includes a $523 million boost in state aid for school districts by increasing the basic per-pupil funding formula by 5 percent over two years.

Much of the talk around the Capitol this session has been about bipartisan cooperation. Walz now faces GOP opposition, especially in the Senate where Republicans have a three-vote majority. Democrats who lead the House were broadly supportive. Walz said Republicans should recognize that his budget reflects the campaign promises that got him elected by a wide margin.

"I think they will come to the table, have a spirited debate, and we'll reach a compromise, and we will invest in a Minnesota that works for everyone," Walz said at a news conference.

But Republican leaders said they oppose the governor's plan. It comes amid a $1.5 billion budget surplus, though that's expected to shrink a bit in the next revenue forecast later this month.

"This first budget is the kind of budget you get when you promise everyone everything," Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka said. House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt dubbed it "One Expensive Minnesota."

On health care, Walz proposed cutting premiums on the state health insurance exchange MNsure by 20 percent and creating a tax credit to ensure that Minnesotans who buy health insurance on the individual market spend no more than 10 percent of their income on health care. He would also create a statewide public buy-in program called ONECare Minnesota to expand coverage choices on the individual market.

For rural Minnesota, Walz proposed $61 million in additional aid to cities and counties, a $70 million "moonshot" to ensure that all households in rural Minnesota have high-speed internet access, and more money to help rural communities cope with child care shortages.

"This budget puts forward the single greatest investment in greater Minnesota in the state's history," he said.

Including the gas tax increase, higher vehicle registration fees and vehicle sales taxes, and a 1/8 cent Twin Cities metro sales tax increase, the budget would generate $1.9 billion annually that would be reserved for roads, bridges and mass transit. The money would let Walz return $460 million to the general fund that now goes to transportation funding so that the money can be spent on education instead.

Walz's budget also presumes that lawmakers will prevent the automatic expiration of a 2 percent tax on health care providers, which funds programs that include the MinnesotaCare health plan for the working poor. The governor said letting it expire would create a nearly $1 billion deficit by 2023. But the Republican leaders framed that as a tax increase.

His budget would also raise taxes as the state syncs its tax code with the 2017 federal tax overhaul, by conforming to federal provisions on business taxes. He said the money would enable cutting taxes on farmers and small businesses by over $200 million, expand a tax credit for nearly 47,000 lower-income working families by an average of $227 per month, and make Social Security benefits tax-free for 56 percent of Minnesota seniors and lower for many others.

Walz plans to release details next week of a $1.27 billion public construction borrowing bill. It would include $300 million for higher education split between the Minnesota State and University of Minnesota systems.

Minnesota is the only state currently where Republicans control one chamber and Democrats control the other, but the state had divided government to some degree during six of previous Gov. Mark Dayton's eight years.

"Every budget in divided government is difficult because we come from two very different points of view, and at the very end we have to come together and figure it out," Gazelka said.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 60898

Reported Deaths: 1698
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin19271835
Ramsey7572265
Dakota4414106
Anoka3683114
Stearns289320
Washington212845
Nobles17646
Olmsted173223
Scott155919
Mower11012
Rice10328
Blue Earth9185
Wright8845
Carver8613
Clay78440
Sherburne7238
Kandiyohi6961
St. Louis55319
Todd4262
Lyon4253
Freeborn3591
Steele3482
Nicollet33713
Benton3203
Watonwan3080
Winona26116
Beltrami2400
Crow Wing23514
Le Sueur2201
Martin2075
Chisago2011
Goodhue1969
Otter Tail1943
McLeod1810
Cottonwood1780
Becker1571
Pipestone1579
Polk1534
Waseca1480
Itasca14712
Douglas1441
Carlton1370
Unassigned13441
Pine1290
Dodge1270
Isanti1250
Murray1221
Chippewa1041
Morrison921
Wabasha920
Brown892
Faribault870
Jackson860
Meeker852
Rock850
Sibley832
Koochiching773
Pennington751
Cass722
Mille Lacs713
Renville645
Fillmore630
Lincoln580
Grant553
Swift531
Roseau520
Yellow Medicine520
Pope480
Houston420
Aitkin401
Norman400
Kanabec361
Redwood360
Wilkin343
Hubbard330
Marshall290
Mahnomen271
Wadena270
Red Lake240
Big Stone220
Lake210
Stevens180
Clearwater140
Traverse110
Lac qui Parle70
Cook50
Kittson30
Lake of the Woods20

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 48781

Reported Deaths: 929
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk10309207
Woodbury371952
Black Hawk312766
Linn237588
Johnson209619
Dallas188535
Buena Vista179412
Scott171814
Dubuque167631
Marshall144426
Pottawattamie132526
Story116614
Wapello90033
Muscatine84748
Webster8017
Crawford7283
Sioux6343
Cerro Gordo62517
Warren5641
Tama55129
Jasper47826
Wright4721
Plymouth4629
Clinton3973
Dickinson3814
Louisa37814
Washington29810
Boone2583
Hamilton2461
Franklin24110
Bremer2267
Clarke2013
Carroll1921
Emmet1924
Clay1901
Shelby1841
Hardin1810
Des Moines1792
Marion1730
Poweshiek1598
Benton1561
Jackson1561
Allamakee1554
Floyd1552
Mahaska13917
Cedar1331
Guthrie1325
Jones1302
Buchanan1271
Henry1254
Hancock1222
Butler1212
Madison1212
Pocahontas1152
Lee1143
Lyon1132
Delaware1121
Humboldt1111
Cherokee1081
Harrison1071
Clayton1043
Taylor980
Iowa971
Winneshiek971
Page940
Kossuth910
Monona910
Mills890
Sac850
Jefferson840
Palo Alto840
Winnebago840
Calhoun832
Osceola830
Fayette820
Grundy791
Mitchell780
Union771
Cass741
Monroe737
Lucas684
Worth660
Montgomery594
Davis572
Chickasaw540
Appanoose493
Howard490
Fremont420
Greene410
Van Buren371
Keokuk351
Adair300
Ida290
Audubon281
Decatur230
Ringgold221
Wayne191
Adams160
Unassigned60
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