The first bill passed by the House and Senate this year became Gov. Mark Dayton’s first veto Feb. 10.
The so-called “phase one” budget bill would have cut more than $901 million in state spending. Republican lawmakers hoped the bill would take an early bite out of the state’s projected $6.2 billion biennial budget deficit.
The bill would have asked Dayton to cut $100 million in unencumbered state spending between now and June 30. It further required $824.3 million in reductions in the next two-year budget cycle, including:
- $594.5 million to various tax aids and credits (primarily city and county aid and the renter’s credit);
- $185.1 million to higher education; and
- $47.5 million to health and human services programs.
The reductions would have extended cuts that were made during last year’s May special session. The House passed the bill 68-61 on Feb. 9 and the Senate passed it 37-28 on Feb. 10.
In his veto message, Dayton cited a Revenue Department estimate that the bill would drive up property taxes by $428 million in the next biennium. He also said legislators were wrong to make him allocate the $100 million in cuts rather than doing it themselves.
“(Y)ou would abdicate your responsibility to make those difficult spending choices and your power to determine those cuts to an appointed official of the Executive Department. That is both inappropriate and unconstitutional,” Dayton wrote.
In addition to the $100 million in executive branch cuts, the bill would have made the following reductions in the current fiscal year::
- $500,000 to the Office of the Attorney General;
- $127,000 to the Office of the Secretary of State;
- $96,000 to the House of Representatives;
- $72,000 to the Senate; and
- $41,000 to the Office of the State Auditor.
It also included a number of expenditures related to federal tax conformity. The provisions would cost the state $24 million in fiscal year 2011 and $2.6 million in the next fiscal biennium. Dayton requested lawmakers work with the Revenue Department to quickly draft a new bill to address the tax conformity issues.