The legislature returns to St. Paul after a ten day extended break. They are hoping to wrap up their work by the end of April, which gives them two weeks to pass a few major bills, including a major capital improvement bill. Under the constitution, they can meet as late as May 21, but most believe they are ready to vote on bills, deal or no deal, and get out of town and onto the campaign trail. We’ll know more about the general sense of where negotiations are going after the legislature returns today.
The Governor and legislative leaders met over break to discuss the remaining issues on the table and to see if they can find a compromise way forward. Given last year’s prolonged government shutdown, don’t hold your breath for a deal to come together over the bonding bill, a Vikings stadium, a tax bill and an education policy bill. GOP leaders want to phase out the state’s business property tax, but they don’t want to replace the lost revenue, which would exacerbate the next biennium’s projected deficit. The Governor is willing to go along with a reduction in the business levy, but wants an increase in foreign operating corporation tax revenue to pay for it.
On the education front, the GOP legislature wants the Governor to sign the “LIFO” bill (HF 1870), but Dayton has said repeatedly that he won’t sign the bill. Several education policy bills are floating around, including a proposal to expand PSEO to 10th graders and allow them to go to private, for-profit colleges (SF 2482); a bill that would require districts to incorporate blended learning, technology components to state mandated course offerings; and a proposal (HF 682) to create local flexibility in designing courses to meet the science standards and required credits.