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Don Davis, Forum News Service, Published March 12 2013

Gov. Mark Dayton delays budget

ST. PAUL – Wrangling the numbers in a revised budget proposal forced Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton to postpone its release.

His spokeswoman, Katharine Tinucci, on Tuesday tweeted the announcement will come “later in the week. Still working on final numbers.”

The Democratic governor released his original budget proposal on Jan. 22. It included $3.7 billion in tax increases as well as $1.5 billion in property tax cuts, leaving a $2.2 billion net tax increase. Much of the new revenue would have come from expanding which services and goods fall under the state sales tax.

However, legislators and the public let Dayton know they did not like the idea, so he dropped it Friday. At the time, his office said he likely would release his new budget plan Tuesday. It did not happen Tuesday, and Tinucci said it was delayed again.

In recent public comments, Dayton did not back away from his proposal to increase income taxes on individuals who make $150,000 a year and couples who earn $250,000.

He also has indicated he plans to keep a cigarette tax increase in his new plan. He originally proposed raising the tax 94 cents.

He hinted that there may not be enough revenue in the new budget proposal to continue his property-tax refund plan.

Also, he said Tuesday that he expects to offer a $750 million public works financing bill. It is expected to include money for a Capitol building renovation project as well as civic centers in Rochester, Mankato and St. Cloud.

Rep. Alice Hausman, DFL-St. Paul, said she was happy to hear of Dayton’s

$750 million plan.

“Investing in our state’s infrastructure through a smart, targeted bonding bill will help create jobs and strengthen our state’s economic future,” said Hausman.

Dayton proposed a

$38 billion, two-year budget. Democratic leaders, who control the Legislature, have not released their spending plans.

University of Minnesota seeks efficiency

University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler told the Senate higher education committee Tuesday that he is working to lower administrative costs.

More analysis is needed, he said. “When we have the data, we will make change to move.”

Even before he receives a final report about what needs to be done, money saving has begun. For instance, he said that

$3.1 million in savings was found by making janitorial changes on the Twin Cities campus.

“I am not standing for the status quo,” Kaler told a House committee Monday. “We’ve done much in streamlining a complex organization, but we have a long way to go.”

Kaler said work will begin to save money on the academic side of the university in the fall.

The president was responding to legislators’ request earlier this year to deliver them a preliminary report after the Wall Street Journal ran a front-page story in January indicating the university spends too much on administration.

Child care unions advance

A Senate committee late Monday approved a bill allowing home-based child care workers to join a union.

“These women deserve respect for doing one of the toughest jobs imaginable: helping raise our children,” bill author Sen. Sandy Pappas, DFL-St. Paul, said. “They are professionals who are experienced, smart, dedicated and loving.”

The Pappas bill also would allow personal care attendants and others who care for the elderly and disabled to join unions.