DFL Gov. Mark Dayton signed four key pieces of legislation into law today, while declaring the recently concluded 2014 session a big success.
Homeless service agencies across Minnesota are eyeing a slice of the $100 million state lawmakers set aside for affordable housing in this year's construction bonding bill.
The biggest single chunk of that money went back to the state's taxpayers in the form of tax cuts.
The Minnesota Senate now has a bonding bill proposal to compete with earlier plans from the House and Gov. Mark Dayton.
Republicans say they weren't convinced by Gov. Mark Dayton's suggestions in his State of the State speech to borrow more money for state projects.
Minnesota's Democratic-controlled House is considering a budget that spends another $323 million of the state's surplus.
House and Senate budget committees have been working on individual spending proposals that are now being rolled into larger packages. After tax cuts, lawmakers have about $600 million to work with. Another round of tax cuts is also in the works.
The House bonding plan will combine $850 million of borrowing with $125 million from the budget surplus.
Several Minnesota mayors are praising the boost in state funding that's coming their way after several years of budget austerity.
Business owner Brady Olson criticizes state legislators for increasing property, sales, gasoline and cigarette taxes. Olson and other business owners in northwest Minnesota say those higher taxes make it difficult for them to compete with businesses in North Dakota, where the booming economy has allowed legislators to cut taxes.
A key source of revenue in the Minnesota's freshly minted budget is a new higher income tax rate that the top 2 percent of earners will pay. The tax increase moves the top rate from nearly 8 percent to 9.85 percent.
Gov. Mark Dayton and legislative leaders will shift from policy to politics today, now that the 2013 session is over. Dayton will hold a press conference this morning, while Republican lawmakers will travel the state to give their spin on the session.
The last votes included the Senate's passage of a massive tax bill, and House approval of a measure to finance state government operations. Both votes were delayed most of the final day by negotiations on a new, smaller bonding bill that covers repairs on the State Capitol.
Members spent most of the weekend working to pass pieces of a two-year, $38.3 billion budget -- the main work of the session. The House passed the tax bill that finances that spending earlier Monday morning after a six-hour debate by a 69-65 margin.
The Minnesota House passed a K-12 finance bill that would increase funding by $485 million for all-day kindergarten, special education, early childhood education and the classroom.