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Senate GOP unveils ‘compromise’ spending offer, including $500 million boost for nursing homes


Senate GOP unveils ‘compromise’ spending offer, including $500 million boost for nursing homes

Mar 27, 2023 | 9:26 pm ET
By Michelle Griffith
Senate GOP unveils ‘compromise’ spending offer, including $500 million boost for nursing homes
Senate Minority Leader Mark Johnson, R-East Grand Forks (center), Sen. Karin Housley, R-Stillwater (left), and Sen. Eric Pratt, R-Prior Lake (right), at a press conference on Monday, March 27. Photo by Michelle Griffith/Minnesota Reformer.

Minnesota Senate Republicans on Monday imagined a world in which Roe v. Wade wasn’t overturned and the national party didn’t drag down their midterm prospects, releasing a list of budget targets and tax cut proposals.

It wasn’t just a gimmick, however. They say if their requirements are met, they’ll provide the needed votes to pass a $1.5 billion infrastructure bill.

Earlier this month, they killed a public works package that included $1.5 billion in borrowing, which requires a supermajority. Senate Republicans on Monday released a “compromise offer,” which they said is one way the Legislature could get the infrastructure bill and their desired tax cuts done.

Senate Minority Leader Mark Johnson, R-East Grand Forks, said his caucus spoke to DFL lawmakers about their package. He said Democrats seemed open to it.

“This is a good-faith attempt to ensure that we can continue our investment in Minnesota … but also give Minnesotans their tax relief,” Johnson said.

Last week, House Speaker Melissa Hortman, DFL-Brooklyn Park, Senate Majority Leader Kari Dziedzic, DFL-Minneapolis, and Gov. Tim Walz released a budget agreement, known around the Capitol as budget targets. It included spending nearly all of the state’s $17.5 billion surplus, with the largest amount of new money going to tax credits and cuts, infrastructure projects and K-12 education.

Johnson said for Republicans to vote for the infrastructure bill — known at the Legislature as a bonding bill, — the 34-33 Democratic majority must eliminate the state tax on Social Security benefits and refrain from implementing any tax increases.

The Senate GOP also wants to spend $500 million more on human services than what the Democrats proposed spending over the next four years. The senators said this would go exclusively to support long-term care facilities.

“It’s something that we’ve heard about for years and we’re in a real, real crisis right now and the governor and Democrats aren’t doing anything about it,” said Sen. Karin Housley, R-Stillwater.

The Republican proposal seemed like an explicit wooing of Sen. John Hoffman, a Democrat from Champlin and chair of the Senate Human Services Committee, who’s been openly critical about the DFL’s lack of new spending for human services — $1.3 billion. He criticized his party’s human services budget target last week during a hearing.

“To give this committee … a target that is not gonna fulfill the needs of the Minnesotans who really desperately need the services is absolutely beyond,” Hoffman said.

Senate Republicans also supported providing $3 billion in tax cuts, which must include Social Security state tax elimination. 

“(DFL leadership has) been very cooperative and engaging with us as well, so I’m really hoping that this is a sign that we can come to an agreement,” Johnson said.