Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.
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ST. PAUL - The Minnesota Senate will consider raising all state income taxes, with married couples earning more than $250,000 annually being taxed at a new, higher 9.25 percent rate. Higher income taxes are the key to the Democratic-Farmer-Laborite controlled Senate plan that raises taxes $2 billion all told. Today's announcement sets up a three-way tax battle with the House and Gov. Tim Pawlenty. The DFL-controlled House on Monday begin looking at a plan that keeps all income taxes the same except for couples who earn more than $300,000. They would pay 9 percent of their income in taxes.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota House Democrats propose increasing taxes on rich Minnesotans, smokers, drinkers, businesses that recently moved to Minnesota and youths downloading Internet music. House Tax Chairwoman Ann Lenczewski, DFL-Bloomington, said the bill is the biggest tax-reform measure in 20 years.
ST. PAUL - Minnesota House Democrats propose increasing taxes on rich Minnesotans, smokers, drinkers, businesses that recently moved to Minnesota and youths downloading Internet music. House Tax Chairwoman Ann Lenczewski, DFL-Bloomington, said the bill is the biggest tax-reform measure in 20 years.
On a 43-22 vote, the Senate approved a bill requiring school boards to adopt a policy that prohibits harassment. The policy applies to students and school workers. "The fact is some kids suffer vastly more significant forms of harassment," Sen. Scott Dibble, DFL-Minneapolis, said, specifically saying gay students often are victims. "We don't tolerate this type of activity from adults; why do we tolerate it from kids?" he added. But Republicans opposed the measure. "We need to resist this temptation to be the super state school board," said Sen. Geoff Michel, R-Edina.
Updated 6:30 p.m.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota senators voted to chop public school budgets $273 per pupil Tuesday while opting to expand a program that pays teachers based on performance instead of seniority. Those on the winning side of the 37-29 vote were not happy to be cutting schools, but said a budget deficit left them no choice. "This bill expects more from our educational system and gives them less resources to carry it out," said Sen. LeRoy Stumpf, DFL-Plummer. "There is no way to sugar coat this," Stumpf added. "This is a reduction to our education system. ...
ST. PAUL -- Flood-weary Red River Valley residents should not be forced to worry about future flood-prevention funding, northwestern Minnesota representatives said Monday as they tried in vain to increase spending on permanent new dikes and other such measures. The Minnesota House approved a public works funding bill with $12.7 million for flood-prevention measures, less than half of that in a Senate-passed measure. Reps. Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead, and Paul Marquart, DFL-Dilworth, led the unsuccessful fight to increase flood spending.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota legislators hit the three-month mark in their 2009 session on Monday, and the Senate Democrats' budget plan just now is taking shape. Weeks ago, Senate leaders said they would cut 7 percent across the board from state spending. Now, it is obvious that will not be the case, thanks to federal economic stimulus money. Higher education spending, for instance, would drop just 2.3 percent under the Senate plan.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesotans are fighting floodwaters along the Red River and elsewhere while their lawmakers are fighting about the cost of preventing prevent future floods. The fight spilled over into other areas, too, as House leaders Monday introduced a smaller public works bill than senators passed this month. Rep. Alice Hausman, chairwoman of the House public works funding committee, said the proposal "is a taking-care-of-basics bill." The St.