Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, again signaled he will carve out a third way from House Speaker Kurt Daudt and Gov. Mark Dayton, preferring to keep significant surplus money in reserve rather than cut taxes or spend big sums on new programs.
"I think some people are going to view the Senate as a bit of a Grinch," he said, referring to the curmudgeonly Seuss character who eventually finds the joy of Christmas.
Bakk said he had learned the lessons of budget surpluses of the 1990s, when the Legislature gave tax cuts and spent money until the downturn of the early 2000s, which forced the Legislature to deal with deficits and difficult decisions nearly every budget year after that for a decade.
"Always managing a crisis," he lamented of that time.
House Republicans have called for both tax cuts and new spending, but Bakk singled out fellow DFLer Gov. Mark Dayton, who released another budget blueprint this week calling for more spending on schools and struggling families.
"The governor's made our job much more difficult in the Senate because the appetite to spend is pretty high right now," Bakk said. "But I hope the Senate comes to the same conclusion that I personally have, that some restraint is needed, that the good times won't last, and that we need to be very careful about cutting taxes too much, or spending too much only to find ourselves in a deficit."
The Senate will release budget targets late next week, after the House does so on Tuesday.