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 -- If Minnesota Democrats ever are to see a state budget they like, today is the day. Gov. Mark Dayton is ready to announce his proposal at midday, giving Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Laborites the only chance they have had in a generation to approve higher taxes and more spending on programs they hold dear. Specifically what he plans to propose has been a closely held secret, although he campaigned in 2010 on raising taxes on the state's richest residents and often discusses that philosophy. He and other Democrats also put a high priority on reducing property taxes.
ST. PAUL -- Money dominates conversation as Minnesota legislators prepare to begin their 2013 session at noon today. It is such a dominant part of the session that when caught rushing to a midday Monday appointment, Rep. Paul Marquart, DFL-Dilworth, could not think of an important non-budget issue. In fact, Marquart said he has told fellow state representatives that the budget is so important that they should not consider issues such as gay marriage and gun control this year. Down the hall and around the corner in the State Office Building, Rep.-elect Dan Schoen, DFL-St.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota's budget future includes uncertainty, spending cuts and tax increase proposals. Especially uncertainty. State officials Wednesday announced a $1.1 billion budget shortfall, but warned that number could grow to $2.8 billion if Congress and the president fail to solve a federal budget problem by year's end.
ST. PAUL -- More than 76 percent of Minnesota's eligible voters cast ballots Nov. 6, best in the country, but the state's top election official says even more would participate if they could vote early. In this year's election, 2,950,780 Minnesotans voted. That is the most ever, Secretary of State Mark Ritchie said, and while final numbers are not in, he said that he is sure Minnesota has the highest percentage in the country. "We're No. 1 by many," he said. Ritchie's comments came after the State Canvassing Board approved returns from Nov. 6 voting.
ST. PAUL -- Incoming Minnesota Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk has announced who will lead committees for the next four years. Democrats regain control when senators return Jan. 8 for the 2012 session and lots of familiar Democratic senators will be chairmen. The decision comes unexpectedly early since last week Bakk said the committee structure and chairmen would not be decided until early December. Presumptive House Speaker Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, has not announced who will lead committees in his chamber. Besides naming chairmen, Bakk appointed Sen.
ST. PAUL -- Democratic competitors in the 2010 Minnesota governor's race will be state government's three most powerful politicians. Senate Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party members Thursday picked Sen. Tom Bakk of Cook as their leader. House Democrats made Paul Thissen of Minneapolis their man for speaker. The two and Gov. Mark Dayton competed for the 2010 DFL governor nomination. When the Legislature returns on Jan. 8, it will be the first time in 22 years that Democrats have held all three key positions. The No. 2 spot in the Senate went to Sen. Katie Sieben, DFL-Cottage Grove, and a St.
ST. PAUL -- Sen. Tom Bakk will be the Minnesota Senate's leader and Sen. Katie Sieben of Cottage Grove will be the deputy leader. A tweet from inside a closed meeting Thursday gave the expected news that Bakk, DFL-Cook, will be the majority leader. He was to meet with reporters later in the day. Sieben's position puts her in a key leadership spot as Democrats retake control of the Senate. Democratic senators and senators-elect met at the St. Paul Hotel this afternoon to pick leaders and celebrate taking control of the Senate in Tuesday's election.
ST. PAUL -- Democrats will control Minnesota's Legislature for the next two years, with a governor of their party on their side. It will be the first time in decades that Democrats have controlled all three entities. Tuesday's election reversed the voters' decision of two years ago to put Republicans in charge of the Legislature. With the GOP in legislative control and liberal Democratic Gov.