Minnesota Defers Decision on Tax Cuts to Next Year

June 18, 2015

In Aeschylus’ Agamemnon, the Trojan princess Cassandra counsels that “there is no avoidance in delay.” In Minnesota, Governor Mark Dayton (DFL) and his allies are preparing to test that proposition.

Two years ago, Dayton secured the passage of a $2.1 billion tax increase. During this year’s regular session, Republican lawmakers, seizing upon a $1.8 billion surplus, sought to reverse course from 2013, advancing a $2 billion tax cut. After the regular session ground to a halt without reaching an agreement, Republican Speaker Kurt Daudt and DFL Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk struck a deal with minimal input from the Governor, who reluctantly backed and signed the budget bills which emerged from a one-day special session.

The newly adopted budget does not contain a tax increase. It does, however, leave about half of the surplus unappropriated, setting up next year’s debate on returning those unspent moneys, and any further surplus, to the taxpayers.

Some Republicans had hoped that the 2015 budget would sound the death knell for the 2013 tax increases. That is not the case—yet. In Agamemnon, Cassandra too foretold a death, and insisted that delay could not thwart her prophesy. But as the chorus replied, “Yet who delays the longest, his the gain.”

Neither side quite won this round, though politically, Dayton may have lost. By retaining a sizable unappropriated balance, however, Republicans have preserved their ability to pursue tax reductions in the next session. Whether they can pull off tax cuts then, only the Fates can say—and they’re not talking.

More on Minnesota here.

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