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Parties see different priorities with larger state surplus

Minnesota's record-breaking state budget surplus is even larger -- $9.2 billion, according to the latest economic forecast, which Senate Republican Majority Leader Jeremy Miller says "really strengthens the argument for permanent, ongoing tax relief to working Minnesotans and senior citizens."

Governor Tim Walz warns Republicans' tax cuts will "go clear to the very top" and the question is: "Should we invest in education, should we invest and talk about a bonding bill, or should we give all of a tax cut, with some of it going to, and big chunk going to the top?"

Walz says he's willing to talk about permanent tax cuts, but they need to exclude the top brackets.

Minnesota House Speaker Melissa Hortman says Democrats' focus on using it is: "Distributing the surplus in a way that helps the people who need the help, and doesn't help those who don't need the help," specifically upper-income Minnesotans.

House Republican Minority Leader Kurt Daudt blasts Walz's proposal for tax rebate checks -- what GOP lawmakers call a one-time, election year gimmick:

"Minnesotans want, and what they need are permanent tax reductions -- permanent reductions to the amount of taxes that they pay in, year in and year out, to the State of Minnesota," Daudt says.

Republican District 22 Sen. Bill Weber of Luverne issued a statement on the surplus:

"I'm glad to see the budget forecast in an even more economically sound position than was projected at the end of last year. However, it does clearly continue to signal that Minnesotans are being overtaxed. With folks facing harder financial choices and the growing burden of record inflation, our number one priority should be returning this surplus to families, seniors, and main street businesses. That coupled with permeant reforms that empower individuals will boost our economy and make Minnesota an even better place to live, work and play."

Last week, Senate Republicans proposed changes to the state's tax code that reduce the first-tier income tax rate from 5.35% to 2.8% and eliminate the state's tax on Social Security benefits. If passed, Weber said, the changes would provide $8.51 billion in tax relief to taxpayers over the next three years.

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