Republicans now in the majority in the Minnesota Senate on Thursday laid out a road map of their priorities for the rest of the legislative session, pledging to cut taxes and government spending, grow jobs and fund road and bridge improvements without a gas tax.
A state economic forecast next week will tell legislators how much state budget surplus money they'll have to work with as they set targets for spending within the full state budget.
Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-Nisswa, released the plan branded "Advancing Minnesota" because, he said, it represents moving forward for the state.
Flanked by his Senate GOP colleagues, Gazelka did not offer specifics on the size of tax cuts Republicans will seek.
He said only that tax cuts sought by Republicans would be larger than the $300 million that DFL Gov. Mark Dayton has proposed.
On transportation, Gazelka reiterated GOP opposition to a gas tax as proposed by Dayton to fund road-and-bridge improvements.
On education, Republicans said they would push for bold reforms to address long-standing racial disparities in education. The caucus said it also would prioritize additional health care reforms.
Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, criticized the GOP agenda for its lack of specifics.
"Unfortunately, they could provide no costs, no savings, and no spending figures to accompany these priorities," Bakk said in a statement, adding his caucus has many of the same priorities in principle.
He added: "I encourage Republicans to keep the structural stability of the state budget in mind as they begin to put numbers behind their priorities."
Although Gazelka did not discuss specific legislation during the unveiling of the agenda, he did say that a vote on a Sunday liquor sales bill likely would arrive on the Senate floor next week.
The Minnesota House on Monday approved Sunday liquor sales with a large margin, pressuring state Senators to act on the matter after a groundswell of support.