The Minnesota Legislature reconvenes for a new session at noon today and for the first time since 1990, there is a DFL governor and DFL majorities in both the House and the Senate.
(The Daily Circuit,
new legislative session gets under way this week, with Democrats running the show for the first time in 25 years. That means Gov. Mark Dayton, a Democrat, will work with a DFL-controlled House and Senate that should be more receptive to his tax and spending proposals.
Incoming Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk said he thinks the current referendum system has driven up property taxes and created unequal funding for schools across the state.
The major tax overhaul that Minnesota lawmakers are expected to consider next year could include some significant changes in the state sales tax. Extending the sales tax to clothing remains an unpopular and unlikely option, but many other transactions could be taxed for the first time as a way to boost state revenues.
The new analysis of state revenue and spending obligations shows the same pending shortfall that was projected last March. Minnesota Management and Budget will release the full revenue forecast at 11:45 a.m., but it seems to indicate that the state's economy is continuing to improve slightly.
As Democrats prepare to take control of the Minnesota Legislature, interest groups have started lining up with funding wish lists for the 2013 session. There's a pent-up demand for spending after a series of budget deficits and two years of Republicans in charge.
Gov. Dayton's veto this week of an end-of-session tax bill has caused some big headaches for several Minnesota cities. The bill included tax provisions linked to a dozen local development projects, which city officials are now scrambling to try to save.
The Minnesota Senate has given final legislative approval to a tax bill smaller and less expensive than one vetoed earlier by Gov. Mark Dayton. Republican leaders say they hope the governor will sign this one.
The bill would borrow $496 million for projects including college building upgrades, flood prevention and improvements to the Capitol. The measure is now up for debate in the State Senate.
State lawmakers are heading home for a week-long break with a bonding bill still unresolved for the 2012 session. With adjournment likely within the next few weeks, Republicans leaders in the House and Senate have not yet taken votes on their competing proposals for public works construction projects.
State Sen. Al DeKruif says the several bills he's sponsoring to keep some services open during a government shutdown simply reflect what it means to run a good state.
Minnesota finance officials are projecting a second consecutive budget surplus. The new economic forecast released Wednesday shows a $323 million cushion for the current two-year budget cycle. But it also still shows a return to red ink looming two years down the road.
Gov. Mark Dayton and state lawmakers are headed into the 2012 legislative session with a budget surplus, news that has a lot of elected and appointed officials taking credit for the state's return to the black. But much of the $876 million surplus has little to do with the actions taken in the past year.
Minnesota finance officials released a report Tuesday that says last summer's 20-day state government shutdown had a minimal cost to the state.
Was Minnesota's 20-day government
shutdown a money saver or budget drain? The Department of Minnesota Management and Budget plans to
answer that question Tuesday with a report detailing costs and
savings during the July standoff.