A Closer Look at the Unsession

Star Tribune | March 7, 2014

Commissioner Tony Sertich and Governor Dayton came up with a five-pronged strategy. They’ve asked the Legislature to clear away upward of 1,000 obsolete passages in the statute books. That’s the funny stuff about telegraph regulation, elevator operator licenses, and the size and color of bug deflectors. It’s mostly harmless clutter. But there are a few genuine annoyances, too, like the rule that employers must keep records for unemployment insurance purposes for eight years when federal rules say four years is sufficient.

The other four points are meatier. It’s tax simplification via federal conformity, embodied in the supplemental budget proposal Dayton released Thursday. It’s environmental permitting reform, getting most permits processed in 90 rather than 150 days. It’s a speedier rulemaking process, something Sertich said Dayton personally added to the agenda.

And it’s an executive order requiring that all state agencies adopt a “plain language” style in any written communication, including forms that now vex citizens with their inscrutability. Several hundred “plain-language champions” have been designated to curb the jargon and police the obfuscation in state prose. “Plain language is the biggest idea,” Sertich said. “We will impact customer service for Minnesotans more by that initiative than by any piece of legislation this year. It touches every corner of state government.” [Read More]

Governor Dayton Proposes $5 Million for UMD in his Budget Proposal

Northland's News Center | March 7, 2014

The potential for millions of additional dollars for the University of Minnesota Duluth in Governor Mark Dayton's budget proposal has sparked conversation on campus.

The university recently announced the college needs to reduce its budget by $9.4-million, and Governor Dayton hopes to make that reduction a bit easier for UMD with an allocation of $5-million for the university, which he included in his budget proposal. [Read More]

Gail O'Kane: Dayton Sees the Value of Investing in Students, MnSCU

Rochester Post-Bulletin | March 7, 2014

On behalf of Rochester Community and Technical College, I want to commend the governor for his recognition of the important work that MnSCU institutions do across the state and the value we deliver to students. Our faculty and staff are passionate about helping students succeed and about serving our community.

This additional investment will help ensure that we can continue to provide students with a high-quality education at an affordable pric, and that we will have the skilled workforce we need to fill the jobs of today and tomorrow.For every dollar invested in MnSCU, the state receives a $13.53 return on investment.

We thank Gov. Dayton for his support and look forward to working with legislators to advance this investment in our students and our community. [Read More]

Gov. Dayton Seeks Bigger Tax Cuts in New Budget

Star Tribune | March 6, 2014

The new proposal, part of the governor’s budget released Thursday, would offer tax relief among married couples, lower-income working families, college students, day-care users and small employers.

“Our improving economy has greatly improved the state’s budget forecast, giving us the opportunity to put more money in the pockets of Minnesota families and businesses,” Dayton said.

Dayton would use about half of the $1.2 billion projected budget surplus to lower taxes. But he also intends to use some money to bolster budget reserves against future downturns, give raises to state-paid health care workers and ensure that no student in Minnesota is denied a hot school lunch.

Dayton is urging legislators to pass the tax package by the end of next week, giving the state time to implement the changes before tax returns must be filed. Some of the proposed tax breaks would be retroactive to 2013, such as the adoption credit and an income tax break for people who lost their home to foreclosure or a short sale.

The strength of the state’s recovery has allowed it to refill depleted budget reserves and pay back nearly $3 billion owed to public schools. For the first time in more than a decade, legislators have their first true surplus to manage. The extra money brings advantages but comes with potential headaches as legislative leaders feel pressure from cash-strapped organizations that rely on state funding. [Read More]

Featured Video: Governor Dayton Proposes Tax Cuts for Middle Class, Businesses


Dayton's Tax Bill Could Improve Fundraising for Charities

Star Tribune | March 7, 2014

Gov. Mark Dayton’s new $1.2 billion supplemental budget calls for tax benefits that could be a big help for charities. Lost in the much larger tax proposal is small change that would reduce sales taxes that non-profit groups pay to host fundraisers.

“This sales tax exemption is critically important for booster clubs that support our schools, helping raise funds for student enrichment activities like sports teams, chess clubs, and other school groups,” Dayton said.

The state has not adjusted that sales tax exemption for nearly 30 years. Dayton’s tax plan would also allow people over 70 1/2 to transfer up to $100,000 from their individual retirement accounts to charities and exclude that amount from their income. The proposal would also make it easier for individuals and businesses to donate food, land and money to charitable causes. [Read More]

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