The next chapter in the 2013 legislative session is about to begin as Gov. Mark Dayton and DFL legislative leaders start negotiating major tax and spending bills. All three want to increase income taxes on top earners and raise cigarette taxes, but significant differences in each plan could mean an overall deal will take some time to come together.
It took two tries for the Minnesota Senate to pass a tax bill raising $1.8 billion in new revenue. Two Senate Democrats were forced to switch their votes after the bill was initially defeated. The failure prompted Republicans to claim Senate DFL leaders could pass their tax hikes only by twisting arms of some nervous first-term members.
The first Republican hoping to challenge Gov. Mark Dayton says the governor's tax plans are sending the state in the wrong direction.
The Minnesota House has passed a tax bill that raises a number of taxes, gives subsidies to businesses and provides property tax relief to homeowners and renters.
State Senate Democrats released a plan today that increases income taxes on wealthiest 6 percent of Minnesotans, raises the sales tax on clothing and services and increases the cigarette tax. DFL leaders say the $1.8 billion tax increase is needed to erase the state's budget deficit and increase spending for schools and property tax relief. Republicans don't like it and even some Democrats in competitive districts are uneasy about the taxes and spending.
New fees and fee increases are scattered throughout the budget bills moving through the Legislature. Minnesotans may be asked to pay more over the next two years. Lawmakers are proposing raising fees, surcharges and other specialized taxes by hundreds of millions of dollars to erase the state's budget deficit and spend more on education.
Top Minnesota lawmakers say they either don't know or can't say which pharmaceutical company they're trying to lure to the state with a tax break gaining steam at the Capitol.
A tax increase on alcohol has been added to the list of ways Minnesota House Democrats are proposing to help balance the state's budget and spend more money for schools.
Mayo Clinic is dropping a complicated tax plan that relies on more than $500 million in state funds to make improvements in Rochester in favor of a plan that would rely on a more direct contribution from the state.
Increases to state spending for schools and early childhood education by $356 million over the next two years are being proposed by Democrats in the Minnesota Senate.
Members of the state House Tax Committee had some sharp words Wednesday for Mayo Clinic.
Minnesota House Democrats are proposing a health and human services budget that spares drastic cuts to poor people, the elderly and people with disabilities. Instead, the proposal would raise about $152 million through additional charges on the state's hospitals and HMOs.
The chairs of the House and Senate Transportation committees are redrafting their budget bills after Governor Dayton repeated his opposition to a gas tax increase. Rep. Frank Hornstein, DFL-Minneapolis, says they are reworking the bill after Dayton's comments earlier in the day.
The Minnesota Republican Party is deep in debt and facing uncertainty about its future. Meanwhile, several outside groups have formed to start on work that has traditionally been done by the party.
A committee in the Minnesota House has approved a sweeping property tax bill that would provide property tax relief to 300,000 homeowners.