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The election for Minnesota's next governor is just a few days away, and the winner will have some large issues to tackle when they take office. On the final week before the election MPR News takes a look at five of the major issues that the next governor will face. MPR's Morning Edition also followed up each story with expert analysis on each issue.
Typically candidates for statewide political office are reluctant to talk about taxes. The general thinking is that it's an election year liability, because no one likes to pay them. But a nearly $6 billion projected budget deficit and years of belt tightening by Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty have prompted two of the candidates to talk candidly about the need for more revenue.
When Minnesota's next governor addresses the state's $5.8 billion budget deficit, a big part of the task will be determining how much to spend on primary and secondary education, which takes up 40 percent of the budget.
In the next two-year budget cycle, the department's spending is projected to climb to from $9 billion to $12 billion. Its budget, which covers health care, nursing homes and other safety-net programs, will eat up more than a third of the state's budget. The candidates' details on the human services budget are scarce. But their comments thus far show they have distinctly different visions for the agency.
College officials in Minnesota hope for an increase in funding next legislative session following years of declining state support for higher education. But none of Minnesota's three major party candidates for governor sees money being available for an increase in light of the state's $5.8 billion deficit.
What a city spends on its police force or its parks doesn't usually get any attention in the Minnesota governor's race, but because the state's budget problems loom so centrally this year, local spending issues have been pulled in as well.