Surpluses and rebates are always welcome news but they certainly don't guarantee a quiet 2001 legislative session. Legislators who've served in recent sessions could attest that a state surplus brings out a host of arguments about how divvy up the wealth.
The state of Minnesota is projecting $3.01 billion revenue surplus through 2003. Because of an automatic rebate provision the revenue surplus means Minnesotans will get money back as a result of the state's over-collection of taxes. That much all parties agree on.
What to do with the rest of the surplus will be the issue politicians will wrangle with when the Legislature convenes on Jan. 3. Political observers predict Republicans will push hard for more tax cuts while Democrats will argue for some blend of tax cuts and spending.
Gov. Jesse Ventura has indicated he'd like to use some of the money to overhaul the state's tax code. His plan to have the state take over the bulk of school funding would remove kindergarten-12th grade education from the local property tax system. That plan, if implemented, would result in some additional costs to the state and it's not clear yet where this state money would come from.
A legislative stalemate last year resulted in the one-third, one-third, one-third split of that revenue surplus among Republicans, Democrats and Gov. Ventura, with each getting their say on how their one-third of the financial pie would be used.
An added complication is that work on redistricting will start this year. Drawing new political boundaries is a job that almost always stirs up animosities between political parties. This year should be no exception despite pledges by everyone to try to take politics out of the process.
So it will likely be politics as usual even though the state's revenue forecast is a rosy one.
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