Good morning, and welcome to Monday and the start of another work week. Here’s the Digest.

1. Committees in the Legislature are working hard to assemble major budget bills in order to meet earlier-than-usual deadlines. Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-Nisswa, said he’s pleased with the progress. He said the plan to send budget bills to Gov. Mark Dayton more than a month ahead of the session adjournment date does not necessarily mean Republicans are expecting vetoes. But they seems to be getting ready in case the DFL governor does reject them. (MPR News)

2. Overall the governor and Republican-led Legislature have about $1 billion worth of differences over how much the state should spend the next two years. Dayton wants to use the $1.6 billion budget surplus to provide $280 million in tax breaks and credits for “working families” and others. He wants to use much of what remains to increase spending on new or existing programs. Dayton also wants to raise new revenue from gas and sales taxes and vehicle registration fees for $6 billion worth of transportation improvements over the next decade. Republicans, who control the House and Senate, want to return the majority of the budget surplus to taxpayers. They want to use existing revenues for transportation projects, cut other government spending and focus modest amounts of new funding on key priorities. (Pioneer Press)

3. DFL Sen. Al Franken says he will vote against President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, saying he fears Gorsuch will rule in favor of corporations, not workers and consumers. Despite opposition from Democrats including Franken, Gorsuch is expected to be confirmed by the Senate’s Republican majority. The Senate Judiciary Committee held four days of confirmation hearings lasdt week, including two days questioning Gorsuch. He refused to give his personal views on most issues, including abortion, campaign finance and others that Democrats highlighted. (WCCO TV)

4. Opponents of ranked choice voting will make their case to a St. Paul Charter Commission committee today. They say the system has not met hopes to increase voter participation and make campaigns less negative. They also point out that supporters of ranked choice were fined for making false statements during the campaign to adopt the system in 2009. Supporters of ranked choice say it is working, and it’s premature to go back to a primary system now. (MPR News)

5. After a big loss at the hands of his own party on repealing the Affordable Care Act. President Trump and Republicans in Congress will try to overhaul the tax code. The president’s inability to make good on his promise to repeal Obamacare has made the already daunting challenge of tax reform even more difficult. Not only has Trump’s aura of political invincibility been shattered, but without killing the Affordable Care Act, Republicans will be unable to rewrite the tax code in the sweeping fashion that the president has called for. (New York Times)

Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka and House Speaker Kurt Daudt. Tim Pugmire | MPR News
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Minnesota House and Senate committees will continue a push this week to complete major budget bills in order to meet earlier-than-usual deadlines.

Votes on those bills are expected before the legislature takes its annual Easter/Passover break in two weeks. Republican leaders have also allowed plenty of time after that to rework some of the bills if necessary.

Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-Nisswa, said he’s pleased with the progress. He said the plan to send budget bills to DFL Gov. Mark Dayton more than a month ahead of the session adjournment date does not necessarily mean Republicans are expecting vetoes.

“My hope is that we don’t have to get to that,” Gazleka said. “We want to have open-door conversations with him. We’re going to invite him in. If you look at the beginning of session, the governor has participated as well. If that trend continues, there’s no reason we can’t get done in a timely fashion.”

There’s a lot to talk about. Republicans want to spend far less than Dayton and provide much more in tax cuts. There are big differences in nearly every budget area.

Dayton has been particularly critical of Republican proposals for education, health care, natural resources, taxes and transportation. But he said last week that he needs to see more details before considering potential vetoes.

“We’ll work with and see if we can find some common accord,” Dayton said. “But I’m not going say I’m going to veto or not veto anything until I know the final specifics.”

Dayton later took aim at House Republicans for eliminating funding for one of his budget priorities: voluntary prekindergarten. He said it was “appalling” that they are using the best interests of four-year-olds as a “political bargaining chip” in budget negotiations.

And his top fiscal adviser, Minnesota Management and Budget commissioner, Myron Frans, criticized Senate Republicans last week for proposing big cuts in the operating budgets of state agencies.

“If not amended to provide sufficient funding for the services that Minnesotans need and deserve in a fiscally responsible way, I will recommend to Gov. Dayton that he veto Senate File 605,” Frans said.

House Minority Leader Melissa Hortman, DFL-Brooklyn Park, said the GOP budget bills show the wrong priorities for Minnesota. Hortman said there are big differences to resolve before May 22.

“I think it’s possible that Republicans are planning two rounds of budget bills, a set that is ideological and destined to be vetoed,” Hortman said. “I just hope that if that’s their plan that they’ve left enough time at the end of session pass a budget for Minnesotans, to make sure there’s no (state government) shutdown and there’s no special session.”

House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Zimmerman, said there will be enough time to react to vetoes. But he’s hoping to avoid them by working out budget bill differences in conference committees. Daudt is also counting on the governor to be fully engaged in those negotiations.

“We know that we need a governor’s signature to put a state budget in place, and I hope the governor knows that he can’t sign a bill that we don’t send to him,” Daudt said. “So he needs to sell us on the provisions that he feels are important, and this is his opportunity to do it.”

Good morning and thank heavens we’ve made it to Friday. Let’s look at one more Digest for the week.

1. Minnesota House Republicans took a defiant stance against Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton Thursday with a proposal to eliminate his flagship early childhood education program, close an arts school and remove multiple automatic budget increases for school programs. With a larger than expected $1.65 billion budget surplus, Dayton announced earlier this month that he wanted to put $175 million toward preschool programs in the state. But as House Republicans rolled out their budget proposals this week, cuts to the early education program and the Perpich Center for Arts Education have shown that lawmakers are preparing for a larger fight over budget negotiations. (AP via Star Tribune)

2. The Destination Medical Center in Rochester has passed a crucial milestone: $200 million in private investments. City and DMC officials announced that more than $145 million in additional investment, including new condos and construction on Mayo Clinic’s campus, was made in 2016, bringing the total investment in the city since 2013 to nearly $300 million. That means Rochester could soon be eligible to tap millions in taxpayer dollars for infrastructure projects. Several projects the DMC submitted have no direct connection to the economic development project, but the state says they count towards the goal. That includes a new $28,000 air conditioning unit for a local church, and $13,000 for a new roof on a local business. And at least three Mayo Clinic projects were approved before the Legislature’s approval of DMC funding, including a $9 million dermatology center renovation and a nearly $6 million upgrade to the sports medicine center. (MPR News)

3.  A Republican bill that targets a State Fair mini-donut booth operated by a local DFL Party chapter is stirring debate at the state Capitol. The House State Government Finance Committee spent about 35 minutes Thursday discussing a bill that would require more disclosure about proceeds from such sales and prior warning to buyers that they could be feeding political activity. Rep. Randy Jessup, R-Shoreview, called the booth a “black stain” at the State Fair. Democrats on the committee complained that Republicans were focused on the donut booth while bottling up legislation that would require more disclosure of campaign finances by groups that are far more active in state elections. (Is anyone else getting hungry?) (MPR News)

4. Minnesota lawmakers are on the verge of approving as much as $300 million per year to try to stabilize the state’s 2018 individual health insurance market and lower premiums. But before the program, known as reinsurance, gets off the ground, lawmakers and the governor first have to settle an important question: where should the money come from? The Republican-backed bills passed this month take their money from the state’s savings, including its budget reserves and a special health care fund. (The House and Senate differ on the specific funds they draw money from.) Dayton, whose signature is needed for reinsurance to become law, wants to raise the money from a new tax. (Pioneer Press)

5. Abandoning negotiations, President Donald Trump late Thursday demanded a make-or-break vote on health care legislation in the House, threatening to leave Obamacare in place and move on to other issues if Friday’s vote fails. The risky move, part gamble and part threat, was presented to GOP lawmakers behind closed doors Thursday night after a long and intense day that saw a planned vote on the health care bill scrapped as the legislation remained short of votes amid cascading negotiations among conservative lawmakers, moderates and others. (AP via MPR News)