Ever since the latter days of the 2011 regular session, it was clear to lobbyists, staffers and other Capitol watchers that the main limitation on the ability of GOP legislative leaders to cut a budget deal was the hard line on spending adopted by numerous members of their freshman-dominated majority caucuses.
The House passed legislation allocating $540 million in Legacy funds to environmental and cultural programs by an 86-45 margin on Saturday. The bill drew support from 66 Republicans and 20 Democrats.
Republican Rep. Steve Drazkowski and others say they have accepted the $34 billion number. But in their eyes, this means that they have already “compromised” on the budget — even if it’s only with other Republicans.
With the once-frenzied budget process mired in conference committee doldrums, Republican-sponsored constitutional amendments that would clamp down on taxes and spending are filling the fiscal policy void.
With less than a month to go before the Legislature is constitutionally required to adjourn, the GOP-controlled House and Senate find themselves fundamentally at odds with DFL Gov. Mark Dayton on the role of new tax revenues in fixing the state's $5 billion deficit. Dayton is pushing for about $2.5 billion in tax increases to help close the budget deficit, while Republicans are continuing to espou[...]
In their efforts to assemble and pass an all-cuts budget, Republican legislative leaders have found themselves engaged in a session-long game of whack-a-mole within their own caucuses. Pockets of discord continue to surface periodically within Republican legislative ranks, compelling the leadership to defuse tensions. Now, however, the pressures are coming from the caucuses' right flank.
So far in 2011, calls by Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton and labor unions for a large bonding bill have fallen on deaf ears at the GOP-controlled Legislature.
State Rep. Rick Hansen's time on the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council was rocky from the start.
Rep. Torrey Westrom began Tuesday's meeting of the House Civil Law Committee with an unusual admonition. He asked audience members to refrain from booing, clapping or sighing during testimony. Westrom also noted that security officers would be stopping by to monitor the hearing room in the State Office Building.
With the House and Senate now in Republican control, issues that have long been bottled up appear to stand a chance of making it onto the ballot in the next statewide election in 2012.
On the first day of the legislative session on Tuesday, many of the Senate's new Republican committee administrators were still receiving the keys to their offices and waiting for their phones to be set up. But for the most part, the top committee staffers who will help Senate Republicans govern in the majority for the first time since 1972 are hardly strangers to the Capitol.
The 2010 elections bolstered the ranks of fiscally conservative Republicans in the Legislature. And that spells trouble for a bonding bill's prospects in the 2011 legislative session.
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