Minnesota has some tough budget decisions ahead. A $1.1 billion budget deficit is forecast (a figure that increases when one figures in inflation, which the state, for some head-in-the-sand reason refuses to do).
There will be hard decisions to make to balance the budget this time around. Gov. Mark Dayton has promised this time around that one-time gimmicks will not be used to balance the budget. We cannot keep raiding the tobacco bond funds, and we absolutely cannot keep shifting payments away from school districts until later years. In years past the state put off its budget responsibilities until tomorrow - and tomorrow has arrived.
Democrats are in complete charge of the process this time around, but we expect legisaltors and the governor to listen to the concerns and ideas of Republicans. We expect there will be some tax increases, but certainly not to the level some special interest groups have suggested. For instance, AFSCME Council 5, the state's largest public employee's union, called for a $6 billion tax hike to undo the budget cuts of the past.
Ignore them, legislators. We expect you to cut costs where possible, and hold tax increases, if needed, to a minimum.