House GOP leadership insists they have the recipe to balance the state budget while giving real relief to the middle class. Their tax bill proposal includes tax credits for student loan payments and contributions to college savings plans, as well as the establishment of a Minnesota tax exempt long-term care savings program.
"The basic philosophy of this bill is that Minnesotans know what to do with their money better than the state government does," said the House tax committee chairman, Rep. Greg Davids (R-Preston).
Davids later quoted Journey and said, "I'm her to tell those taxpayers, 'Don't stop believing'," while unveiling the GOP's signature tax cut -- a new $1,000 exemption per individual on state income tax returns over the next two years.
It's a quarter of the amount taxpayers now get from the federal government.
Republicans estimate that in that time, it might save a middle class family of 4 up to $500, and cost the state $539 million.
"Our goal has been from the beginning to give Minnesotans the tax relief they deserve," said House Speaker Kurt Daudt (R-Crown). "Let's leave more money in family budgets."
The DFL was quick to bash the proposal, comparing it to money former Gov. Jesse Ventura gave back to taxpayers only to end up with large budget deficits in subsequent years.
"This is essentially a 'Jesse check' that Republicans are promising," House minority leader Paul Thissen (D-Minneapolis).
Democrats also argue that the GOP plan favors big business at the expense of working Minnesotans. For example, the package phases out a state tax on commercial and industrial property.
"I think the song for this tax bill is, 'Separate Ways, Worlds Apart,'" Thissen said, referring to another Journey song.
Thissen described the Republican priorities as all wrong at a time when Minnesota is looking at a projected $1.8 billion budget surplus.
"Teachers are going to be laid off and kids will have fewer opportunities," Thissen added. "Working Minnesotans will lose access to affordable health care coverage, hardworking servers will have their wages cut."