Our opinion: Governor’s budget plan will require work; Proposal is laudable in ambition, but will require work on both sides of the aisle

Published 8:32 am Wednesday, February 20, 2019

On Tuesday, Gov. Tim Walz released his first budget proposal and to say it is ambitious isn’t putting the bar near high enough.

Just a taste of the $49 billion budget proposal included $733 million in new spending on pre-K through grade 12 education, plus another $158 million for higher education, according to the Associated Press.

An additional $284 million will be funneled toward new Health and Humans Services spending.

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Perhaps the most eye-opening, though, is the 20 cents a gallon gas tax hike that would help fund transportation projects throughout the state once combined with the $1.5 billion surplus the state has at its disposal.

The budget’s scope and ideas would put money toward places that need it most and we commend Gov. Walz for taking these initial steps toward improving things Minnesotans care about the most.

But there should be some brake-bumping as well.

Perhaps the biggest sticking point between the Republican-controlled Senate and DFL-controlled House along with Gov. Walz will be the gas tax.

This has been a contentious point in the past between Democrats and Republicans and this doesn’t shape up to be much different. Admittedly, the 20-cent increase will probably be a lot to swallow for most Minnesotans. While the goal to improve the state’s infrastructure is commendable, we’re not entirely sure that that kind of increase is realistic.

Another sticking point will be the health care plan, which would create a subsidy program to reduce premiums on MNsure. However, Republicans have already begun pushing back, which promises another fight on another front.

But education stands to see the most from this new budget, which is not surprising considering Gov. Walz’s teaching background. Under his plan education spending would be upwards of $733 million. This includes $77 million for special education and $8 million for getting more teachers of color.

This is only part of the budget with overtures made for border-to-border broadband and cybersecurity.

In the short term it’s important to understand that this is only a first step with plenty more work to do. It’s likely these numbers will not be the final form of the governor’s budget so in the long term we’ll just have to wait and see.

But what this budget does highlight along with the current makeup of the Minnesota Legislature is a renewed effort to work together, understand each other’s differences and ultimately come together for the benefit of the state as a whole — not just for Democrats or Republicans.

While some of the governor’s proposals likely will see pushback there is more than enough to excite both sides of the aisle in the future of Minnesota.

Partisan politics on the scale of what we see in Washington, D.C. just won’t fly. If our governing officials truly want to get anything accomplished with so lofty of a budget proposal, they are going to have to get off Twitter and get to work.