Budget standoff

Minnesota’s political leaders are locked in a standoff over the state budget. A week ago Monday, they missed a self-imposed deadline for setting overall budget targets, from which they could shape their negotiations.

On Sunday, with one week left to make a deal, talks between Democratic Gov. Tim Walz and Senate Republicans broke down with a difference of about $2 billion in their positions.

What’s going on?

Walz and the House of Representatives, controlled by Democrats, want to spend about $2 billion more than Republicans who control the state Senate. Republicans believe the state has plenty of money coming in, along with a huge surplus, so why raise taxes or grow government programs that will just cost more in future?

Of course, it all has real-world implications for Minnesotans. Some want the government to do more because they will benefit. Others want the government to carefully watch what it spends, because they pay the bills. Others still would like the government to back off, do less and return more money to taxpayers, so they can utilize their own income to live their lives and make their own decisions.

We believe Republicans offered Walz a great deal last week: more money for his top priority, E-12 education, if he would help them get a handle on the runaway spending on health and human services. Walz did not take them up on the offer. Why? Prioritizing spending does not appeal to him. He wants more spending and higher taxes to pay for it. That’s a shame.

There is less than a week left to pass a budget. Don’t expect it to happen. The two sides have deep, fundamental differences. It will most likely take a long post-session negotiation and the threat of a government shutdown to bring them together.