Legislators, governor argue over how much to give the Guard

Staff Writer

There’s plenty for Minnesota legislators and Gov. Mark Dayton to hash out in the next four weeks before the end of the session Monday, May 22. Among those issues is how much funding will be given to the Minnesota Department of Military Affairs (MDMA) and the Minnesota National Guard.

The House and Senate released their proposals Wednesday, which give a $39.2 million budget to the MDMA as part of the omnibus budget bill for 2018-2019.

The proposed budgets for the Senate and House are $11 million less than the $50 million Dayton proposed.

The proposal is the same as the amount budgeted for the MDMA in the 2016-2017 budget, but underneath the surface there are changes.

MDMA’s Executive Director Donald Kerr said within the different parts of the department’s budget there are cuts which would have negative impacts on both the organization overall and on Camp Ripley.

Another part of the bill requires that over the next two years 34 full-time equivalent positions be cut, Kerr said. This would include some workers at Camp Ripley, Kerr said.

The shifts would also mean less money for tuition reimbursement and re-enlistment bonuses for guard members, and for things like maintenance, administration and security needs, Kerr said.

“I am at a loss to even describe the illogic of this proposal that will negatively affect our military readiness during a time when we know there is a budget surplus of over a billion and a half dollars,” Kerr said.

Rep. Ron Kresha, R-Little Falls, said the Legislature has to be fiscally responsible with the many requests for more funding from different agencies.

Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-Nisswa, said people should pay attention to numbers that could come out down the road.

“Nothing’s final,” Gazelka said.

He said a number people should look out for is a target the Legislature and Dayton agree on.

But, Kerr said, those numbers are only a matter of conjecture and presume the Senate and House bill is vetoed.

  • Jim Ostrander

    Just remember this when the next election rolls around. Our legislators want to make cuts to the military budget when they campaigned on rebuilding our military. Those 34 positions they want to eliminate simply do not correspond to the “jobs-jobs-jobs” rhetoric. Hypocrites. It’s time we voted them out of office and replaced them with legislators that represent the will of the people.