Budget deal has something for all

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 29, 2001

The budget deal reached Friday by legislative leaders was a deal worth waiting for, said Rep.

Tuesday, May 29, 2001

The budget deal reached Friday by legislative leaders was a deal worth waiting for, said Rep. Dan Dorman.

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The deal increases spending for the biennium by 6.7 percent, said Dorman, R-Albert Lea – an increase that keeps up with the rate of inflation while adequately funding schools and nursing homes.

But Dorman said the most important piece of the deal is the property tax reform. He was especially pleased to hear that 75 percent of the tax surplus is going to tax reductions and reform, including a taxpayer rebate of $856 million.

&uot;Everyone will eventually see a smaller property tax bill,&uot; said Dorman. &uot;Plus we followed through with our promise of a healthy rebate.&uot;

Dorman said the agreement restructures property-tax rates to give homeowners an 18.5 percent reduction, as well as a 21 percent reduction for renters, 12 percent for seasonal recreation property, 20 percent for farmers and 10 percent for commercial/industrial property.

&uot;Many Minnesotans have been asking for relief for a long time, and I’m glad we were able to give it to them,&uot; Dorman said.

Sen. Grace Schwab was relieved to see increased spending for nursing homes and K-12 education – two issues she said she’s worked on all session.

Schwab said the $381 million in new education funding, plus millions more for equalization aid, will at least give public schools an inflationary increase. But Schwab hopes schools in her district will have enough to avoid major budget cuts.

&uot;I’m definitely keeping tabs on that,&uot; Schwab said. &uot;I don’t want to see all that money go to the metro schools. It needs to be targeted,&uot; she said.

The budget deal seems positive for farmers in at least one way, said Rep. Henry Kalis, DFL-Walters. The property tax relief for farmers will be popular in his district, he said.

&uot;As a party, we’ve always promoted property-tax relief, especially for ag producers,&uot; Kalis said.

But Kalis was reluctant Tuesday to comment on the budget deal. He plans a trip to St. Paul later this week to learn more about the specifics, especially in school funding and transportation. He hopes the new education funding is allocated in a way that helps rural schools.

&uot;I’m afraid the schools in my district are going to be in a tough situation. We can’t consolidate any more than we already have, but we’ve got to keep buses running and buildings open, too,&uot; Kalis said.

Kalis said it’s possible to complete a special session in two days, but only if all the caucuses cooperate.

&uot;I’ve been in a number of special sessions over the years. We’ve never had this much to accomplish, though. Usually it’s one or two sticky issues,&uot; Kalis said. &uot;This time it’s all of big budget bills. That’s a lot of work.&uot;