SAINT PAUL, Minn. (FOX 47) — With the only divided state legislature in the country, Minnesota is no stranger to disagreement on the pollical level.
As expected, Governor Tim Walz’s newly proposed two year budget for the state caused just that.
“Tell me how I’m aiming high,” Walz asked a reporter Tuesday.
Republicans are saying the $52 billion price tag is too big and fails to use funds wisely.
“This is a problem. We have a spending problem with this governor,” said Sen. Julie Rosen, (R) Vernon Center.
State GOP members believe the budget fails to address a major issue.
“That is getting the vaccine out as fast as we can, particularly to people over the age of 65, said Republican Senate Majority Leader, Paul Gazelka.
Walz’s plan hopes to address getting kids back on track in school.
“The largest investment in this budget, more than half of it, is in education,” said Jim Schowalter, Minnesota Management and Budget commissioner.
“I’m willing to have a conversation on anything, but I have a big problem with that when they should have seen that kids in school was essential to their future and mental health, and they decided against that,” Gazelka said.
The major objection Minnesota Republicans have is with raising income taxes. However, the hike does not impact many in the state.
“If your family is making less than $20,000 per week, this isn’t going to hit you,” Walz said.
Critics of the governor’s plan argue taxing the top percent of businesses and Minnesotans will do more harm than help to the state’s overall economy.
“We have to grow our way out of this recession. There is no other way,” said Republican House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt. “Unfortunately, all of the things the governor is putting in place will hinder economic growth in the state of Minnesota.”
Republicans plan to work on a budget of their own, one they say will be much cheaper and uses more of the state’s reserve funds instead of raising taxes.
“That’s the budget if you don’t believe COVID is real, we don’t need to catch up with students and you don’t believe we need to make investments coming out of this,” Walz said.
While it may seem like the two sides are worlds apart, Gazelka is optimistic progress can be made by focusing on a few strategic goals.
“Getting kids back in school, getting businesses up and running, and getting the vaccine out,” Gazelka said. “If we all focus on that and pass a balanced budget, we’ll be fine.”
Walz says any aid from the federal government would help the state and alter the budget. But, he did not take that into account for this budget.
If there’s no budget agreement by May 17, a special session will be required. We’ve had a special session in four of the past five budget years.