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Governor Dayton wants “to overhaul the state’s tax system, spark job creation and boost funding for state colleges and universities and early childhood education.”
On Monday, the Governor said job number one for himself and the new Democrat majority in the legislature will be to address the $1.1 billion state budget deficit projected over the next two years. He did not, however, offer any specifics as to how he and his Democrat colleagues in the legislature will balance the state’s budget other than his promise that he will “propose tax increases” to balance the budget.
Dayton has already stated publically that he intends to propose increased taxes on the wealthiest 2% of Minnesotans. He has not clarified, however, if this really means the “wealthiest,” which would include himself, or if he is focused on the highest wage earners/revenue producers in the state (the job providers). According to Dayton, “he wants to make taxes ‘fairer, more equitable and better suited for the economy we have now and will have in the future.’” Other than a proposed tax on the wealthiest 2%, the Governor has not expanded on how he would make taxes in Minnesota “fair and equitable.”
The Senate Majority Leader indicated that he wants to provide more government tax incentives, i.e. tax increment financing, for local governments. He also wants to eliminate the right of local residents to vote on K-12 school funding.
In addition to balancing the state’s projected $1.1 billion budget deficit over the next two years, presumably by raising taxes without any real reduction in current state spending, the Governor wants a substantial bonding bill next year (the 1st year of the new legislature, absent an emergency, is not supposed to be a bonding year). The Governor’s wish list for bonding projects includes $200 million or more for State Capitol renovations, and millions for civic centers in Rochester (which the Governor denied DEED grant money last spring), Mankato and St. Cloud. Notwithstanding that next year is supposed to be focused on the state budget and not bonding, and ignoring the idea that Legacy Funds could and should be used to repair and renovate the State Capitol, the House Republican Leader is open to the Governor’s bonding bill.
The Governor and the Democrat leadership from the State House and Senate acknowledged there will be a lot of talk about legalizing Gay Marriage but that any action should await a ruling on the case pending before the U.S. Supreme Court. (Earlier this month, the United States Supreme Court announced it will review the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruling in Perry v. Brown, involving California’s ban on same-sex marriage).