First Day in Session: Lawmakers Focus on MN Deficit - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

First Day in Session: Lawmakers Focus on MN Deficit

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     The 88th Minnesota legislature is underway and at the heart of what legislators face this session: A projected $1.1 billion dollar budget deficit.

     The session is expected to start slow but debate will most likely heat up quickly as a number of large issues including tax increases, spending, and possibly a push to legalize gay marriage are all topics of discussion this session.

     In Minnesota, 199 lawmakers will be sworn in, among them 57 freshmen. For the first time since 1990, the DFL has majorities in the house and senate, but legislators say it will take much bipartisan support to fix the state, and both sides know they just need to get the job done.

     District 4 Senator Kent Eken says there have been too many "one-time fixes" that only shift the problems to this session. He proposes a look at tax revenue as part of a solution.

"I would look at revenues being generated on the highest income levels because they currently pay much lower percent of their income in taxes than others do," Eken explains.

     In District 4B, Representative Paul Marquart is looking at a three-pronged approach.

"You look at efficiencies in the budget, and you get money from there," Marquart says. "You look at areas that are not necessarily our top priorities for meeting goals. We need to streamline. We make cuts. And you look at revenue increases and primarily by cutting spending that we have in our tax code that only goes to a few people."

     In District  4A, Representative Ben Lien would like to focus mainly on property taxes, but not at a state level.

"Not have so much state involvement in the property taxes but really to keep that as a local issue so that local governments can budget or balance their budgets with the resources they have," Lein explains.

     All agree there is lot to be done in the coming months. Marquart says the biggest challenges that could come with trying to balance the budget, would be what republicans and democrats see as the important issues.

     No bills were introduced Tuesday. The initial legislation will be shown the floor on Thursday.


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