Senate Republicans are sending a letter to Governor Dayton today to make one thing perfectly clear: they oppose taxes. Senate GOP leadership has been clear that they don't need new revenue to balance the state's budget. But several freshman members of the caucus and the Senate Tax Chair have indicated in recent days that new revenue is needed. Tax Chair Julianne Ortman told MPR News on Wednesday that she would look at ending some deductions in the state's tax code and use some of that money to balance the state's budget.
Several other members told MPR News that they would also look at tax expenditures or gambling to balance the budget.
While the letter makes it clear that the GOP caucus opposes tax increases, it says nothing about tax expenditures. Ortman specifically said on Wednesday that she viewed tax expenditures as government spending and not tax hikes. She declined comment when asked if she was reversing her position on tax expenditures
"I don't have anything to say outside the scope of that letter," Ortman said. "That is my position."
In a conference call with reporters, Gov. Dayton said he wanted to see a more thorough response from Republicans.
"I would say again, the time for this rhetorical game playing is over," Dayton said. "I submitted my budget, now its their responsibility to develop their budget. Where is their budget? Let them devise their budget and you know, take all of the rhetoric in this letter and put it in a budget that they have passed and then we'll have something to discuss."
The state was facing a projected 6.2 billion dollar budget deficit in the last official forecast last fall. A new forecast is due next week. The state has until May 23rd to come up with a balanced budget.
Here's the letter: