Budget plans would differ in effect on LGA

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 16, 2003

Little progress has been made in the House-Senate talks to narrow a large gap between distinctively different budget plans that deal with a $4.2 billion deficit. The negotiations are likely to continue past the legal adjournment date on Monday and require Gov. Tim Pawlenty to call a special session.

While the Senate wants to increase state taxes by $1.3 billion, the House and governor oppose any tax increase.

The new tax revenues, including $577 from a dollar-per-pack cigarette tax increase, $525 million from income tax increases on the rich and $250 million from business property taxes, would lessen spending cuts for programs crucial to Minnesotans, the Senate DFL asserts.

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Locally, the state tax increase would reward cities with more Local Government Aid (LGA). Though the Senate bill does not preserve all of the LGA the cities could expect under the current law, the cut would be significantly smaller than the House plan.

The bill also inlcudes a provision to freeze local property-tax increases for two years, while the House gives voters an opportunity to have a reverse referendum on a levy increase.

Describing the bill as &uot;common-sense&uot; and &uot;balanced,&uot; Sen. Dan Sparks, DFLS-Austin, said, &uot;The bill keeps the DFL commitment to fully fund education, cuts government spending, raises revenues and freezes property taxes.&uot;

&uot;I don’t want to go to special session and I wish we could have finished in a more timely fashion,&uot; Rep. Dan Dorman, R-Albert Lea, said in his e-mail newsletter.

Dorman rebelled against his party in his vote for the House budget proposal after his call for an amendment to lessen LGA cuts for rural Minnesota was denied.

Dorman aimed at the state’s provisions for local governments other than LGA, maintaining the GOP no-tax increase principle while avoiding forcing the cities to increase their property taxes.

Pawlenty is having a press conference with outstate daily newspapers today to discuss his views on the talks at the Capitol.