The Daily Digest (Mayo fires back, DFLers back off gas tax; closing the achievement gap?)

Crush and slush today as lawmakers push ahead on a busy day at the Capitol as rain, sleet and snow pelt St. Paul.

Lawmakers will also keep a close eye on a warm and partly sunny Washington today as President Obama releases his 2014 federal spending plan.

State

DFLers say their education plan will close achievement gap (MPR News)

“House Democrats say their plan to increase education spending by $550 million will close the achievement gap. They say a 100 percent college readiness and graduation rate with all students reading by third grade is also within reach.”

Mayo CEO on Minn. expansion: ‘We’ll have to rethink … the best use of our money’ (Star Tribune)

“In blunt words aimed squarely at the Minnesota Legislature, the Mayo Clinic CEO warned the hallowed medical institution has “49 states” eager to have Mayo’s planned multibillion-dollar expansion if the state is unwilling to pitch in.”

Senate Democrats back off hiking gas tax and sales tax for transportation (MPR News)

“The Senate Transportation Finance Committee chair says he is backing off his plan to raise taxes to pay for transportation projects after Gov. Dayton indicated he opposed raising the state’s gas tax.”

House DFL releases $800 million bonding bill (MPR News)

“The plan comes in at $800 million, compared to Gov. Dayton’s $750 million proposal. It includes about $22 million more than the governor for higher education projects, but about $52 million less for improvements to state-run veterans homes.”

Bachmann, Nienow request state, national Medicaid audits (Associated Press)

“Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann and state Sen. Sean Nienow say companies handling taxpayer-funded health care plans have profited from poor oversight while low-income Minnesotans and doctors have suffered.”

DFL spending cuts target hospitals, HMOs (MPR News)

“Minnesota House Democrats are proposing a health and human services budget that spares drastic cuts to poor people, the elderly and people with disabilities. But the plan would raise about $152 million from the state’s hospitals and HMOs.”

Minneapolis, St. Paul to get more state help (Star Tribune)

“After a rare accord between metro and rural cities, Minneapolis and St. Paul are set to receive the first increase in five years.”

Nation

Tentative deal on immigration farm workers (Associated Press)

Threat to block debate on guns appears to fade in Senate (New York Times)

Two months late, Obama’s budget proposal irks both sides (CBS News)

Santorum says supporting gay marriage would be ‘suicidal’ for GOP (Washington Post)

With major issues on tap, Obama continues GOP outreach (CBS News)