Sales tax deal headed for conference committee

A pair of DFL senators say there’s a deal on the table for doling out the proceeds from the new 3/8 cent sales tax.

It’s the only bright spot in an otherwise gloomy scenario this session. The tax is expected to raise about $234 million in the next fiscal year, starting in July.

Tom Saxhaug, of Grand Rapids, said a few minutes ago “there will be an Article I” when the conference committee meets at 1 p.m. today. He isn’t promising that everyone will vote for it.

But he seemed confident that the House’s most controversial outdoor provisions — the ones generating some angst among hunters, anglers and the Lessard Outdoor Heritage Commission — have been paved over.

He demurred on another of the controversial elements on debate over the new tax. A few lawmakers were trying to take retired Sen. Bob Lessard’s name off the Lessard Outdoor Heritage Committee that doles out a big chunk of the money. The name “will be in there, somehow,” Saxhaug said of his former colleague.

Patricia Torres Ray, of Minneapolis, said the less-controversial parks, trails and clean water provisions are done and look good for this afternoon’s meeting.

We haven’t been able to track down Dick Cohen, the conference committee’s DFL co-chair. But as one of the Legislatures’ most ardent patrons of the arts, he’s been the most insistent on getting a deal done. Presumably, Cohen will have something to bring to the table today.

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    QUICK!

    WHO CAN THEY BUY OFF WITH SOME SALES TAX PORK!

    MAYBE IF WE BRIBE SOMEONE, WE MAY GET THE VOTES!