Dayton: GOP not being honest about effects of budget cuts

Gov. Mark Dayton is renewing his challenge to the Republican-controlled Legislature to come up with a balanced budget without raising taxes — and without hurting the state's most vulnerable residents.

"They aren't being honest about the cuts they would have to make to achieve their budget targets," Dayton told MPR's Morning Edition on Tuesday. "Tell us the truth about what the results of that would be and then we can discuss whether that would be in the best interests of the people of Minnesota."

Republican leaders are standing by their budget plan, which does not raise taxes. They've also acknowledged some differences with Dayton's administration in relying on federal waivers to balance the budget for health and human services.

Dayton, a Democrat, has said balancing the budget through cuts would hurt nursing home residents and others, but he acknowledged that something must be done to slow the growth of health care spending. Dayton has proposed some cuts to health and human services spending and has asked health care providers to return profits to the state.

Dayton has also proposed raising income taxes paid by Minnesota's top earners to erase the nearly $5 billion budget deficit.

"We can't just throw people out of nursing homes or deny them the care that they need," Dayton said of cutting health and human services spending. "It has to be done skillfully."

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The House and Senate will be negotiating an overall budget plan that will be presented to Dayton. Then, legislative leaders will negotiate a deal with Dayton. The deadline is May 23.

Dayton said he hopes the Senate and House budget proposals can be reconciled the week after lawmakers return from the Easter-Passover break.

"If they do that next week with honest accounting, then I'd say we're on track. If they come back and still are unwilling to provide an honest reckoning for their proposals then I'd say we're behind [schedule]," he said.

Besides the budget, Republicans are looking to move several policy bills through the Legislature before the deadline, including a proposal to require voters to show photo ID at the polls.

Dayton, who has expressed concerns about the bill in the past, said he'd look at it. But he also said election reforms should include greater transparency in reporting of political campaign receipts.