Compromises on tax bill, education top priorities

The Legislature’s end-of-session deadline of May 21 is fast approaching and it appears the governor and Republicans are still far apart on some issues. On Monday, Gov. Mark Dayton announced he won’t sign a bill squaring the state’s tax code to sweeping federal changes if Republican lawmakers don’t include emergency funding for schools. Dayton is asking for $137.9 million in one-time aid money for Minnesota school districts. Marshall Public Schools is facing a $350,000 deficit and would get $409,000 in Dayton’s proposal.

Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka says meeting Dayton’s request is “next to impossible” in the compressed timeframe.

Dayton has his comeback to that argument: The governor proposed his emergency school aid plan on May 1, a full 21 days before the end of the Legislative session and on the same day Senate Republicans proposed their tax bill.

Meanwhile, newspaper editors are being besieged with press releases from the governor’s office and lawmakers. And the standoff continues on several issues.

The good news, Rep. Chris Swedzinski, R-Ghent announced Monday that a $6 million appropriation for the Minnesota Emergency Response & Industrial Training Center in Marshall is included in a capital investment package the approved by the Minnesota House. Hopefully, that appropriation survives a final version signed by Dayton.

We urge Dayton and the Legislators to at least give in a little bit on two key issues:

• Squaring the state’s tax code to sweeping federal changes has to get done. Tax cuts being proposed as result of these changes need to be put to good use. Certainly, reducing the tax load on the middle income earners is important, but so is doing what we can to help make the state’s business taxes less punitive.

• Like Dayton said, the state can afford to give a little more to education, especially the public school districts facing deficits. Just look around the communities in southwest Minnesota, especially right here in Marshall. Employers are desperately seeking skilled workers. Those workers are only going to come from a strong educational system. And it all starts at the pre-kindergarten level.

Republican lawmakers are citing declining enrollment at the state’s higher education centers. However, those facilities still need to be upgraded to keep up with normal wear and tear and technological advancements.

Budget surpluses should be not hoarded. However, that surplus should be used wisely.