Gov. Mark Dayton

Leah Millis, Associated Press

Editorial: State budget revisited

  • January 9, 2012 - 9:47 PM

The state budget is set and in the black, if only temporarily.

But that hasn't stopped DFL Gov. Mark Dayton from expounding on the virtues of the budget proposal he touted and the GOP-controlled Legislature spurned last May.

Those virtues include a bottom line that would remain in positive territory in 2014-15, according to a new "what if" analysis by the state Revenue Department.

It applied the Dayton offer of last May 16, which included $1.8 billion in new tax revenue in 2012-13, to the latest forecast for 2014-15. Do that, and the $1.3 billion deficit that's been forecasted for 2014-15 disappears, leaving a $35 million surplus.

Dayton was seeking an increase in taxes on the wealthy plus an equivalent sum in spending cuts back in May. (The Editorial Board agreed with that split between tax increases and spending cuts, but disagreed with Dayton about which taxes should be raised.)

Instead, the final budget deal rejected tax increases and employed two one-time measures, borrowing against expected future revenues and delaying payments to schools, totaling nearly $1.4 billion. When those two measures expire in June 2013, voila! The deficit returns.

Why reprise this argument now, when the 2012-13 budget is showing an $876 million balance?

Call it Dayton's midterm election year kickoff. He evidently wants to remind Minnesotans that there was a better way to balance the state budget in 2011 than the one divided government delivered.

The 2012 election, in which every House and Senate seat is on the ballot, presents an opportunity to elect legislators who are willing to consider better options.


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