Creating jobs is the focus of this legislative session
ST. PAUL — If there is one thing Republicans and Democrats agree on heading into the 2012 legislative session it's this — the focus should be on creating jobs. Problem is, the two parties have very different views on how to do that.
Republicans are pushing an agenda that includes tax cuts for businesses and cutting bureaucratic red tape to spur economic development.
"Jobs, the economy, looking to reform government and growing toward a more prosperous Minnesota — that's why we come, that's why we're here, that's what we're dedicated to," said Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem.
Democrats, including Gov. Mark Dayton, back investing in infrastructure, offering tax credits and closing tax loopholes to encourage business growth. Last week, Dayton unveiled a proposal to borrow $775 million to build public works projects, which he says would create more than 21,000 jobs.
"The indisputable fact is that this bill would put many thousands of Minnesotans to work and almost all of those jobs would be in the private sector — something not understood by everyone in the two chambers upstairs," he said.
Lawmakers also have plenty of other issues on their plate. The Minnesota Vikings are pushing hard for a new $1 billion-plus stadium. Republicans are also expected to bring forward several constitutional amendment proposals. Those could include an amendment to require voters to show photo identification and one that would require a super majority to pass tax increases. Legislators will get a break from budget balancing — at least for this year. The state is projected to have an $876 million budget surplus. But a $1.3 billion budget deficit looms in the next budget cycle.
Legislators will be trying to tackle all of these issues in what is expected to be a short session, ending in April. Then there are the politics to consider. All the lawmakers are up for re-election this fall, and they still do not know what their legislative districts will look like. The courts have until Feb. 21 to release the new legislative district maps as part the once-a-decade redistricting process.