Apr 3, 2023 - Politics

Everyone wants a (bigger) piece of Minnesota's budget

Illustration of hands reaching for a giant dollar

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

It turns out $17.5 billion isn't enough money to buy happiness — at least not at the Minnesota Legislature.

What's happening: Budget season is in full swing at the Capitol, as spending bills drop and start to move through committees in both chambers.

Yes, but: Even with a historic pile of cash to dole out, calls for more are flying from groups that feel their area or issue is getting the short end of the surplus stick.

Zoom in: Nursing homes, disability services advocates and food shelves are among those already lobbying DFL leaders for a bigger piece of the budget, as MPR News reported last week.

  • Republicans, meanwhile, are calling to put more toward tax cuts, especially in light of hikes proposed by Democrats. They also want more spending for areas like agriculture and roads.

What they're saying: "[If] a budget is a moral document, what does it say about us that not one cent is dedicated to supporting our communities’ most vulnerable residents living in public housing?" Minneapolis Public Housing Authority CEO Abdi Warsame wrote in a sharply worded letter asking Housing committee chairs for $45 million to rehabilitate deeply affordable homes.

The intrigue: In some cases, influential committee chairs are among the disgruntled.

  • Senate Human Services Committee Chair John Hoffman (DFL) has called the $1.3 billion increase allocated for his spending bill "very disappointing" and "paltry," saying it isn't enough to cover needed pay increases for long-term care workers.

The other side: Leaders say they did the best they could with the money at hand.

  • “We have to take care of transportation, education and health care, and in order to achieve that balance, not everybody got everything that they wanted," Speaker Melissa Hortman (DFL-Brooklyn Park) told MPR News. "But everybody got a significant increase.”

What's next: Lawmakers go on Easter break Tuesday. When they return, the pace — and lobbying — should pick up even more.

  • Expect the spending priorities to shift, and in some cases grow, as the budget comes together in the weeks ahead.

More politics coverage: Minnesota cities flood Legislature with sales tax hike requests.


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