Republican legislative leaders resumed their criticism Wednesday of Gov. Mark Dayton's budget blueprint, aiming most of their rhetorical fire at his plan to raise income taxes on the wealthiest Minnesotans.
Such a tax increase is simply not acceptable, said House Speaker Kurt Zellers. "This budget is detatched from the reality every other state has recognized," he said.
The GOP leaders largely recycled the talking points they made Tuesday in the wake of Dayton's budget presentation --including displaying a U.S. map that declared "state governments take a stand against new taxes -- except Gov. Mark Dayton."
They began a five-city fly-around of the state at the downtown St. Paul airport, shortly after Dayton began his own flying tour of Minnesota from the same location. Among the cities both sides will hit are Duluth, Rochester, Moorhead and Mankato -- although Dayton and the legislators won't actually cross paths.
Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch repeated her assertion that Dayton's tax increase proposal would be the largest in state history and would make Minnesota's income tax burden the highest in the nation. If enacted, she said, it would place Minnesota in "the absolute king daddy spot" of the highest-taxed state.
She called his plan "a 20th Century budget for a 21st Century economy" and said it lacks any stimulus for private-sector job growth. "It's mostly business as usual," Koch said.
"We're not going to let the governor tax your job out of state," Zellers said. Dayton's tax plan would force Minnesotans "to lose your job or move to another state," he said.
While Zellers said the "depth and breadth of concerns we have about the budget can't be expressed," the Republican leaders offered no specific alternatives to Dayton's plan. The House and Senate sent a bill to Dayton last week that would have trimmed about $900 million of the state's $6.2 billion deficit -- a bill Dayton promptly vetoed.
Sen. Geoff Michel, R-Edina, said that even though Dayton's tax increase plan is "consistent" with his position during the gubernatorial campaign, the proposal is far bigger than what he originally talked about.
"My fear is that it solidifies and confirms our brand" as a high-tax, big-spending state, Michel said.