Legislature Entering Final Stretch 13 May 13

Minnesota lawmakers are bearing down for the legislative session’s homestretch. Today (MON) marks one week until the mandatory adjournment deadline. Much is left to do. The House and Senate still need to pass compromise bills on the state’s next two year budget. Along the way, they are likely to pass tax increases on top earners and smokers. An alcohol tax increase is also in play as are revisions to the state sales tax. On the spending side, the budget is likely to feature new dollars for education, including funds to help schools provide all-day kindergarten statewide. An agreement has reportedly been reached on the state budget for the next 2 years. Legislative leaders and Governor Dayton announced the plan on Sunday. The plan reportedly balances the budget in 2014 and 2015. The agreement will pay back the money borrowed from Minnesota schools in recent years, and invests $725-million in education. It also reportedly provides $400-million in property tax relief, and makes tax reforms that include asking the wealthiest two-percent to pay more in taxes, closes corporate tax loopholes and reforms the tax system to make it fairer for the middle class. The Minnesota Senate is scheduled to start its debate on the bill to legalize gay marriage today (MON) at noon. The Senate is the final legislative hurdle for the bill, and its passage there would send the bill to Governor Dayton for his signature. Dayton says he will sign the bill. It would make gay marriage legal in the state starting August 1st. The House passed the bill Thursday by a vote of 75-59. In the local area, Republican lawmakers voted against the measure and Democrats supported it, which was true for the majority of state representatives.