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New taxes? Some in Minnesota House's new GOP majority leave door open

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You might expect the new Republican majority in the Minnesota House to slam the door shut on the idea of new taxes.

But Forum News Service questioned several in the GOP caucus and found the door looks to be ajar.

The seats Republicans captured in last month's election to gain control of the House were all outside of the Twin Cities area, and party leaders have promised to pay more attention to the needs of greater Minnesota.

While the consensus in the GOP is that new taxes should be avoided, Rep. Paul Anderson of Starbuck tells Forum News he's willing to make an exception to help nursing homes in rural areas:

"At least on the nursing homes, I would support some kind of an increase of some form of tax or revenue increase,” Anderson said. “I think it is that serious out here in rural Minnesota.”

On the other hand, there's Bud Nornes of Fergus Falls who is quoted in the same story saying "Absolutely no new taxes."

And in between those positions we have Paul Torkelson of Hanska, who doesn't want to lock a menu in place without looking over the kitchen first: "I don’t think this is the time of year you rule out taxes,” Torkelson told Forum News. “This is the time you throw all the spaghetti against the wall and see what sticks.”

In addition to nursing homes, transportation is also mentioned as a possible recipient of new tax revenue. The Transportation Department estimates Minnesota's existing roads and bridges need $30 billion worth of repairs and maintenance work.

No one's suggesting that much money be approved in 2015, but lawmakers and Gov. Mark Dayton agree transportation should be a priority in the new session.

Last week Minnesota's Republican Party unveiled a Solution Center outlining its legislative priorities. GOP Chairman Keith Downey told the Star Tribune the party opposes any new taxes for transportation and wants lawmakers to give roads and bridges priority over public transit projects.

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