Funding for unaccountable non-profits is the early theme of DFL state budget

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Budget process begins

The legislature started putting together the state budget this week, passing several omnibus bills off the Senate and House floor. So far, they are sticking to the budget targets agreed to by Gov. Tim Walz and House and Senate DFL leadership.

Those targets account for every last dime of the $17 billion surplus. They plan to increase the size of the ongoing state budget by $5 billion per biennium and spend another $12 billion in one-time expenditures. An early theme in the spending spree is money set aside for non-profits that have no accountability for results. Democrats tell the voters they care about a topic by rewarding friendly groups with state grants. No one seems to have learned anything from the Feeding Our Future scandal.

The Public Safety omnibus bill passed in the Senate includes $91 million to community non-profits under the guise of crime prevention. One of these groups received a Golden Turkey nomination for silly spending in 2021. The Jobs and Economic Development omnibus bill is also full of grant programs for non-profits. Senate Republicans tried adding more accountability and reporting but their amendments were defeated on party-line votes.

We should learn this week the makeup of the $3 billion target for the tax committee. Many press outlets have mistakenly (or not) reported there would be $3 billion in tax cuts, but some of that target will include spending, including money sent to cities for local government aid. The tax bill will also include tax increases, which are wildly unpopular with the public (see below).

Higher Education

The House passed the Higher Education omnibus bill, adding $450 million in one-time spending and $200 million in ongoing spending. The one-time money will cover a temporary tuition freeze. Republicans pointed out the folly of adding more funding to a system that is losing students and doesn’t understand why.

The Senate passed the Agriculture omnibus bill that included $100 million in one-tine spending for broadband. Leaders in St. Paul show much they care about Greater Minnesota by the amount of money they spend on broadband, attempting to connect everyone in the state to high-speed Internet. By the time they spend all the state, federal and private money dedicated to broadband, the technology they choose will be obsolete.

More budget bills will reach the House and Senate floors this week.

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