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Our view: Legislature can finish strong, with less crazy

Minnesotans have to be hoping the final weeks of the legislative session aren’t like last year.

Remember that finale? Or, should we say, fiasco?

A flurry of secret-at-worst, hard-to-follow-at-best, late-night deals contributed to an unprecedented $2.1 billion in tax increases; one of the highest tax rates in the nation; a trio of troublesome, bottom line-unfriendly new business-to-business taxes; an are-you-kidding gift tax that was just the second of its kind in the country;

and plans for a new, multimillion-dollar office building for state senators that was approved with little to no public input or debate. Lost in a massive tax bill, the office building probably escaped the notice of most Minnesotans. Is it even really needed?

“(It was) not the path to good government,” the St. Paul Pioneer Press opined.

The tax-happy overreach of the DFL-controlled Legislature was so great North Dakota put up billboards immediately following last year’s session urging burdened Minnesotans to hop the border to escape the tyranny. It was so great lawmakers spent a good portion of this year’s session repealing and fixing the most ill-

advised moves, including the so-called business-to-business taxes, the gift tax and the final price tag on the Senate building.

This year’s final four weeks, which get started Wednesday following an 11-day Easter/Passover break, promise to be different. For one thing, it’s a bonding year. For another, it’s an election year. House members on the campaign trail this summer and fall want to be able to promote the pork they procured for their districts via the every-other-year bonding bill. In Duluth that means winning state bonding money for projects at Spirit Mountain, Wade Stadium, the NorShor Theatre, Lake Superior Zoo, Lake Superior College, the University of Minnesota Duluth and elsewhere, all worthy beneficiaries. Making sure the bonding money comes through will require working across the aisle, a necessity that will encourage civility and fewer secret-from-the-other-party, late-night meetings and deals. A three-fifths super-

majority vote is needed to pass a bonding bill, so DFLers need at least two Republicans in the Senate and eight in the House to agree to the projects on the final list.

Of course, it won’t be all kumbaya and smooth legislating to the very end, either.

“No matter what happens before adjournment, I expect familiar themes to emerge,” St. Cloud Times Editorial Page Editor Randy Krebs, a Duluth native, wrote last week. “The DFL will claim how its candidates have helped the masses through fiscal fairness (ahem) while the GOP will portray how every business (ahem) is about ready to leave the state because of DFL policies. (So) prepare for what’s become the typical red-vs.-blue campaign season. Class warfare, the verge of economic collapse, you know the drill by now.”

But prepare, too, for a more-predictable, more-productive and less-crazy end to the legislative session — especially compared to last year. Minnesotans sure can hope so.