Republicans who control the Minnesota Senate outlined their vision for tax cuts and combating violent crime Wednesday, offering a conservative counterpoint to the succession of spending proposals from state Democratic leaders.

DFL Gov. Tim Walz also zeroed in on public safety as he rolled out the final piece of his budget plan Wednesday, and political leaders from both sides of the aisle overlapped in their desire to recruit and retain law enforcement. But they diverged on a long list of other ideas, from a public health insurance buy-in to marijuana legalization to how much the state should devote to government programs.

"Crime rates are up, kids are falling behind, and record inflation is eating away at family budgets," said Senate Majority Leader Jeremy Miller, R-Winona. "Things are moving in the wrong direction, and Senate Republicans are focused on solutions to put Minnesota back on the right track."

The divided Legislature will attempt to find common ground on how to use Minnesota's projected $7.7 billion budget surplus when it returns to work Monday for the start of the legislative session. Lawmakers will simultaneously signal their values to voters ahead of the November election, when the full Legislature and the governor's office are on the ballot.

During the past couple of weeks, House Democrats and Walz have been highlighting their hopes for the four-month-long session, including directing more money to support students and teachers, creating paid leave programs for workers and increasing the amount the state devotes to compensating pandemic frontline workers. On Wednesday, Walz added implementing marijuana legalization for adults and expanding health care coverage and housing support to his list.

Republican lawmakers denounced the scale of spending Democrats that are pushing.

Minnesotans are struggling with rising costs, said Sen. Julia Coleman, R-Chanhassen.

"Their bank accounts aren't facing record surpluses," Coleman said. "They deserve actual relief, not a government spending spree."

Republicans seek to lower income tax rates so all Minnesotans who are working get a tax cut, Miller said, and provide targeted relief for lower and middle-income Minnesotans.

To support law enforcement, Republicans are pushing retention bonuses and pension reform for police officers, as well as providing scholarships for those who want to enter the field.

GOP members did not have price tags for their public safety and tax cut plans, but Miller said the numbers would be available in the next couple of weeks.

Senate Republican leaders continued to blame their House Democratic counterparts for much of the crime and law enforcement challenges confronting the state. Senate Public Safety Committee chairman Warren Limmer, R-Maple Grove, attributed rising crime to bail reform policies and progressive prosecutors choosing not to charge certain offenses. Miller accused Democrats of placing a higher priority on climate policy than public safety.

House Public Safety Committee chairman Carlos Mariani, DFL-St. Paul, countered in a statement that House DFLers "are collaboratively working with law enforcement, local elected officials and prosecutors to deliver the tools and resources they urgently need to improve safety within our communities. Constructed to prioritize political slogans over proven solutions, the GOP approach lacks the comprehensive vision Minnesotans deserve right now."

The House DFL this week unveiled a $100 million public safety budget plan that includes money for nonprofits working on violence prevention, community policing and new state-funded crime analysts. They also proposed grants to respond to the opioid epidemic, funding for police departments to buy body cameras and money for the state police licensing board to add investigators and develop ideas to improve officer recruitment and diversity.

Walz, meanwhile, proposed giving $300 million over three years to local governments and tribes to address public safety needs. He suggested retention incentives for law enforcement and student loan financing, along with an advertising campaign to get more people into the profession. The governor's budget also would put tens of millions toward community policing grants, community-based crime prevention strategies and youth engagement and employment programs.

While differing approaches and election year politics will make reaching a public safety deal difficult, one area where there appears to be some early agreement between GOP legislators and Walz is replenishing the depleted Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund.

Minnesota and other states sank into debt during the pandemic, leaning on the federal government to cover the sharp rise in unemployment benefit requests. Minnesota drained its trust fund and owes the federal government more than $1 billion.

Walz's budget proposal includes more than $2.7 billion to restore the fund. Both the governor and Republican lawmakers have stressed that using part of the surplus to fix that problem will prevent a jump in payroll taxes for businesses.

"I hope we can do that relatively quickly," Miller said.

Back-to-back news conferences at the Capitol on Wednesday began with a group of Democrats announcing they are forming the Minnesota Health Plan Caucus. They called for a universal health plan like the one that Sen. John Marty, DFL-Roseville, has long pushed.

"This type of health plan would allow us to have more control and to make sure [that] we have adequate services throughout the state of Minnesota so people don't have to, for example, drive two and a half hours when they need to deliver a baby," said Sen. Jen McEwen, DFL-Duluth.

Walz reiterated his long-standing push for the more modest option of allowing anyone to buy into the MinnesotaCare health insurance plan, which the state subsidizes.

Senate Republicans want to extend Minnesota's reinsurance program, which helps health insurers cover costs to keep premiums down. Miller said his caucus is not interested in a "government-run, bureaucratic health system."

Staff writer Stephen Montemayor contributed to this report.