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)