Minnesota budget goalposts will become more clear in the coming days, spurred by the release of Gov. Mark Dayton's revised budget proposal due Tuesday, which calls for $444.2 million more to be added to his $42 billion spending blueprint.
The DFL governor has dedicated most of the additional spending for schools and other education priorities, including universal access to preschool and tuition freezes for college students.
Dayton also is likely to give nursing homes — which say they need $200 million over the next two years — a slice of the $1.9 billion surplus pie. How much is still unknown.
The governor also will recommend $50 million for child protection task force recommendations.
He is planning to restore $3.7 million in state dollars for the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board as the agency moves ahead after a conflict over the proposed Southwest Corridor light-rail project.
Expanded education programs and proposals aimed at helping young families make up the bulk of new spending under Dayton's $42 billion plan, which would, if adopted, represent about a 20 percent increase in state spending since he took office. That's on top of a separate $11 billion transportation proposal, which includes new sources of revenue.
Calling the spending an investment, Dayton and DFL legislators supportive of his ambitious education agenda items say they will spur future economic growth and development.
"I propose that we invest our collective good fortune in our collective better future in education and transportation," Dayton said when he previewed his revised budget in late February. "For ourselves, for our children, and for our grandchildren. And for the generations that will follow. Since we may not have the same opportunities in the years ahead, it's even more important that we do it now."
Dayton on Monday also asked for $500,000 for a task force that will study the state health care exchange's long-term viability, as well as other health care programs and policies. Recommendations would be due by next January.
GOP, DFL plans forming
Legislators meanwhile are working quickly to move dozens of bills through committees in their respective houses of origin ahead of a Friday deadline.
The Republican-led House and the DFL-controlled Senate will release their own budget limits for state agencies and programs by the end of next week.
House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, has said House Republicans would aim to give back at least half the surplus in tax relief to Minnesota residents — about $900 million. Other GOP proposals include tax reductions for businesses that proponents say will improve the state's business climate.
It's clear, however, that rank-and-file Republicans and GOP leaders in both legislative chambers intend to tap the budget surplus to pay for a wish list of causes. Among them are $200 million for road and bridge projects, $455 million for schools and $500 million in "toddler tax credits," similar to Dayton's child-care tax credit expansion.
Daudt and other Republican legislators have also talked of additional spending on long-term care for seniors and increasing local government aid.
Budget targets will be adopted March 24, a GOP House Caucus spokeswoman said Monday.
DFLers in the Senate say they intend to target funds to long-term care, which has emerged as a bipartisan issue this session. Overall, expect spending increases in virtually every division, including courts, corrections, health and human services and education, Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, said Monday.
Bakk also said the Senate will propose additional dollars for local government aid, an aim with support from Sen. Rod Skoe, DFL-Clearbrook, chair of the Senate Taxes Committee. Advocates, including the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities, said local government aid has been lagging for more than a decade.
"Both Sen. Skoe and I feel pretty strongly about the state being a strong partner with our local units of government," Bakk said.
More need than funds
Though Minnesota's projected budget surplus is the largest in nearly two decades, it's not nearly enough to cover the steady stream of requests by advocacy and interest groups at the Capitol.
Several groups on Monday urged legislators on the House Ways and Means Committee to consider their budget requests. They included business interests, schools and health advocacy groups such as the Arc of Minnesota, among others that are urging more funds for Health and Human Services. The committee took no action Monday.
Those jockeying for funds "are probably going to be a bit disappointed because we just don't have the resources available to satisfy much of the want," Bakk said.
Star Tribune staff writer J. Patrick Coolican contributed to this report.