DFL legislative leaders are trying to convey a sense of calm and harmony, but beneath the surface they are scrambling to piece together a budget deal, sort out a funding shortfall for the new Minnesota Vikings stadium and avoid chasing off Mayo Clinic, the state’s largest private employer.Watch yer wallets:
Heading into the session’s final stretch, Democrats also are digging in on tax increases despite heavy criticism from Republicans and business groups.
“We are not shying away from the fact that we need to raise taxes to invest in education and job creation and property tax relief,” said House Speaker Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis.
To pay for their wish-lists, legislators are exploring an array of other taxes, including tobacco, alcohol, clothing and consumer services.And if you've ever wondered why Alida Messinger, Gov. Dayton's ex-wife, was so keen to help put her former husband in the office, we might finally have a clue:
Dayton and legislative leaders have embraced increasing the tobacco tax, which could raise as much as $735 million over the next two years. Others are pressing for a nickel-a-drink hike on alcohol, which could bring in millions.Enjoy your Better Minnesota, everyone!
Dayton has remained cool to that idea, but political insiders are watching the issue more closely as a new lobbying force has entered the Capitol — Bill Messinger.
Messinger, who owns a business that specializes in helping people with chemical addiction, says that higher alcohol taxes could fund chemical dependency programs.
He is married to Dayton’s former wife, Alida. She is an heir to the Rockefeller fortune and mother to the governor’s two grown sons. Her millions helped get Dayton elected and the two remain close.