ST. PAUL, Minn. - Under Gov. Mark Dayton's long-awaited budget proposal, Minnesota taxpayers would pay more, pay less and get a hefty property tax rebate.
Lawmakers spent the day digesting the new information that the governor and his financial team spent months putting together.
"I think it's very balanced. I think it's one that Minnesotans will see the benefits of despite all the people who are going to come screaming how terrible it's going to be," the governor told a packed house at the Department of Revenue building.
Republicans didn't disappoint in regards to that prophecy.
"There are a lot of things that are going to hit middle income families really hard in this budget," Republican House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt told reporters at the capitol an hour after Dayton addressed the media.
Dayton says reliance on property tax has gone up 86 percent in the past decade and he wants to change that. He's pushing for every single homeowner to get a rebate for the first $500 paid in 2013, and every year after that going forward.
"He has $1.4 billion of property tax relief in that bill. I am really pleased about that!" DFL Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk said.
In the plan, Dayton calls for a tax on the rich. Couples making more than $250,000 and individuals making more than $150,000 would be in line for income tax increases. Couples making less than $250,000 would pay the same in income taxes and individuals earning less than $150,000 would receive annual tax cuts of up to $500.
"Ninety-eight percent of Minnesotans, if you take the package as a whole, are going to be paying the same or less taxes than they pay today," DFL Speaker of the House Paul Thissen explained.
"What's the big thing that we're getting for this?" Senate Minority Leader, Republican David Hann, wondered.
Republican leaders called the Governor's tax shift "gimmicky." Dayton says he'd like to reduce the state sales tax rate on taxable purchases, and in turn, apply taxes on "many goods and services which are now exempt."
"I would just say to the people of Minnesota, get prepared, everything is going to get more expensive and your budgets are going to be much more constrained in the next year," Senator Hann concluded.
Lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle say they haven't had much time to digest the budget plan yet. They'll certainly be discussing it, at length, over the course of the coming weeks and months.
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