DFL budget keeps education a priority

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The preschoolers through college students surrounding House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher (DFL-Mpls) were the backdrop to emphasize the House DFL commitment to education in their 2010-2011 biennial budget proposal.

Under the proposal to solve the projected $4.6 billion deficit, early education through higher ed would not see budget cuts.

However, other state programs are not held harmless. In what Kelliher termed “shared sacrifice,” more than $1.6 billion in cuts are proposed to state programming. Although, she pointed out some of cuts would be mitigated by use of one-time federal stimulus funds. (Watch the press conferences.)

The budget also calls for $1.5 billion in new revenue. She said the House Taxes Committee would be coming forward with recommendations, including a “bold” proposal expected next week from the House Property and Local Sales Tax Division and chairman Rep. Paul Marquart (DFL-Dilworth).

DFLers also call for a shift, or as Kelliher termed it a “delay in payment,” of state money to schools, a budgeting mechanism that has often been used during deficit times. During this biennium, it would amount to about $1.77 billion. They also propose a $250 million increase in the state budget reserve.

House Minority Leader Marty Seifert (R-Marshall) called the new revenue a sure way to drive jobs out of the state. He referenced recently released state jobless numbers showing the level at 8.1 percent in February, and said the only way the state can move forward is through job creation.

He said his caucus is firmly behind the governor’s budget plan that calls for no new taxes. He promised solidarity to uphold any veto the governor has promised regarding tax increases.

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