Gov. Mark Dayton's budget proposal on Tuesday is sure to draw some heated debate in the current legislative session.
Dayton's solution to the pending $1.1 billion budget shortfall in the next biennium? Levy $2 billion more in taxes and raise spending by another $1 billion. We were expecting increases, but not at this ramped up level.
As aniticipated, Dayton would raise the inome tax rate on the top two percent of Minnesotans -?couples with a taxable income of $250,000 or more, and individuals earning $150,000 or more. He would also broaden the sales tax, applying it to some services and clothing items costing more than $100, while lowering the tax rate from 6.875 percent to 5.5 percent.
Smokers would pay an extra 94 cents per pack of cigarettes.
Dayton is also proposing the lowering of some taxes, with a property tax rebate of up to $500 per family, and a reduction in the state's corporate income tax.
Some of Dayton's spending increases are hard to complain about - $52 more per pupil for K-12 education ($300 million), $240 million more for higher education, and $120 million more for Local Government Aid and County Program Aid. Lord knows schools have been bearing the brunt of past budget balancing plans. But is there no place to cut spending to help pay for these increases?
Dayton's proposal is by no means the final word. He himself said the plan has "two strikes against it." Let's see what else comes up to bat.