Minn. legislature to face challenges - KXLT - Fox 47 Rochester MN News, Weather, Sports #rochmn

Minn. legislature to face challenges

ST. PAUL, Minn. (FOX 47) -- Right out of the gate, the Minnesota legislature will have its hands full with issues that will affect everyone in the state, but there may be one thing that it will have the biggest impact on.

With the new session only a few weeks away, there are challenges immediately facing the state's leaders.

On the top of that list? The state budget deficit.

"Well, I still think we need to control spending and also look for different ways that we can make sure that our tax system is fair," said outgoing Republican Sen. John Howe from Red Wing. "I think Myron Frans, the Commissioner of Revenue and Governor Dayton and the legislative body is looking at different ways that we can reform our tax to make it more fair."

A fairer tax system is not a new topic of discussion, but one method of offering that and helping with the budget deficit may be a tax on more consumer goods, such as clothing.

"If we can get people educated to what a consumption tax is, a lot of people think that it's a regressive tax," said Sen. Howe. "Even a clothing tax is not a regressive tax, and they have the information to show that."

One major obstacle in the way of this is the Mall of America, who uses the lack of a sales tax as a selling point to not only the country, but the world.

"Applying the sales tax to clothing is something that any legislator is going to get concerned about," said Charley Shaw with Politics in Minnesota. "From the standpoint of it being risky to the state's competitive relationship with its neighbors and throughout the country itself."

The budget shortfall is just over $1 billion, an improvement over the $5 billion deficit only two years ago, but when the first gavel hits, legislators of all experience levels will be working together to bring that number down even more.

One other big issue to pay attention to is the number of new legislators.

Nearly 1/3 of the combined House and Senate will be new from the previous year, so they will all need to jump into the game right away in order to address the budget issue in a timely manner.

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