DFL settles in to Capitol leadership; promises spending cuts, no lockout

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DFLers newly ensconced in legislative leadership posts promise 2013 will be a year of spending cuts, tax changes and no government shutdown.

The Democratic-Farmer-Labor party controls both of Minnesota's legislative chambers and the governor's office for the first time since 1990. Party leaders offered an overview of the new session Wednesday.

Lawmakers must resolve a shortfall of $1.1 billion for the upcoming two-year budget cycle. Minnesota also faces a similarly-sized debt to its school districts. DFLers promised that both spending cuts and higher taxes on the wealthiest residents will be part of their financial solution. House and Senate leaders also shook hands over a pledge that there will be no government shutdown this summer.

Minnesota's last budget process did produce a shutdown in 2011. Republicans who controlled the legislature then were at odds with Democratic Governor Mark Dayton on how to solve a $6 billion budget deficit. Some Republicans have reportedly sneered at the much smaller shortfall confronting the DFL this year. New Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk advised them to cool their jets, saying their handling of the 2011 budget was not a success.

As for who might see more money in the new budget, the DFLers say rebates to property taxpayers are a priority. Schools and higher education also could see funding boosts, although Bakk has questions about how much the University of Minnesota is spending on administrative costs.

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