Members of a bipartisan budget commission convened by former Vice President Walter Mondale and former Gov. Arne Carlson released what they are calling a "framework for a state budget solution" released their plan Thursday.
It appears to split the difference between the approach of Gov. Mark Dayton, who has proposed a mix of tax increases and spending cuts to erase Minnesota's $5 billion budget deficit, and Legislature's Republican majorities, which have refused to consider any tax increases
However, Dayton issued a statement saying many of the recommendations "parallel my own proposals." He complained that GOP legislators "remain adamantly opposed to making our state tax system fairer."
GOP leaders didn't immediately react to the proposal, but sent a letter to Dayton, calling new budget offers he made Wednesday "incredibly disappointing" and that Wednesday's negotiating session represented "a giant step back" in ending the government shutdown. They reiterated their position that any tax increase lacks the votes to be passed by the Legislature.
DFL legislative leaders countered by praising the commission's work while blasting their GOP counterparts as "shameful," telling them to "get serious" about ending the budget impasse.
Commission members proposed a budget that would rely on about 70 percent spending cuts and 30 percent tax increases. They also said spending much equal revenues during the two-year budget cycle that began July 1, meaning "no shifts or gimmicks should be used to balance the budget."
They recommended cutting projected state spending by $3.6 billion, which they said would amount to a 1.5 percent increase in each of the next two years. Under the plan, income taxes would temporarily increase for all taxpayers during the biennium. Taxes on tobacco, alcohol and a human services surcharge woould be increased. They recommended broadening the state's sales tax while lowering rates.
Dayton pointed out that some of those increases are close to what he's proposed, but said he opposes the across-the-board income tax hike, saying any such increase should be limited to the state's wealthiest residents.
Combined, the tax increases would bring in $1.4 billion.
They said they briefed Dayton and legislative leaders on the plan Thursday morning.
They concluded that "Minnesotans are suffering, our reputation has been hurt and our credit rating is endangered."