Budget Panel Offers Framework To End Minnesota’s Gov’t Shutdown

There are few signs that Minnesota’s state government shutdown — now dragging on into its second week — will let up anytime soon.

So a nonpartisan panel has offered an alternative, hoping cooler heads will prevail.
The panel — composed of former Vice President Walter Mondale, former Minnesota Gov. Arne Carlson and other business leaders and academics — believes that “everyone in Minnesota needs to contribute to the budget solution,” according to a budget blueprint released Friday.The proposal states that both increased revenue and spending cuts should be part of an eventual budget deal, by a ratio of about 70 percent spending cuts to 30 percent revenue increases. And finally, the state’s spending “should focus on growing the Minnesota economy,” although specific cuts aren’t yet mentioned.

Minnesota faces a $5 billion projected budget deficit. So to close that gap, the proposal lays out the following specifics: cut state spending by $3.6 billion and increase state revenues $1.4 billion. The increased revenue comes from areas such as a tobacco tax increase of $1.29 per pack and an alcohol tax increase, among other areas. See the full budget blueprint here.

“This budget impasse is unprecedented and must be addressed as soon as possible,” the proposal reads. “Minnesotans are suffering, and our credit rating is endangered.”

Indeed, Minnesota’s AAA credit rating on Thursday was downgraded to AA-plus, with Fitch Ratings citing the state’s “increasingly contentious budgeting environment.”

Gov. Mark Dayton (D) described the panel’s proposal as “parallel” to his own, the Star Tribune reports, but Republicans continue to balk at Dayton’s calls for taxing Minnesota’s millionaires.

Read the rest here.

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