GOP House Speaker opens door to spending cuts

The Republican speaker of the Minnesota House has opened the door to spending cuts to some programs, despite a nearly $2 billion projected budget surplus.

Rep. Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, made his comments when asked about a Republican Party ad calling on Gov. Mark Dayton and the Legislature to use the entire surplus to cut taxes. The ad appeared to run counter to Daudt's comments last month that House Republicans would use half of the surplus for tax cuts and the rest to fund transportation, education and nursing homes.

Now, Daudt says he'll consider funding those key initiatives and cutting taxes by $1.9 billion tax by cutting spending for other programs.

"What we all need to do is stop talking like the base is the expected level of spending," Daudt said. "We really start with zero here in Minnesota, and we'll build a budget from there."

Daudt's comments set the stage for an argument over what constitutes a spending cut in Minnesota's budget. That's because education and health and human services typically get an increase over existing spending.

Some Republicans have argued that it's not fair to say spending is cut if the programs get the same amount of money they did in the previous two year budget. But advocates for those programs and Democrats say it should be considered a cut is spending doesn't grow with enrollment in programs.

Daudt says House Republicans will release their budget framework before Mar. 25. Dayton says he'll release his revised budget next week.

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