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Our View: It's more than petty sniping

Minnesotans we talk to are fed up with the Legislature's inability to get its work done. However, more than petty sniping is going on here. The belief is growing in some circles that the DFL-controlled Senate is willing to go to a state governmen...

Minnesotans we talk to are fed up with the Legislature's inability to get its work done. However, more than petty sniping is going on here.
The belief is growing in some circles that the DFL-controlled Senate is willing to go to a state government shutdown in order to stop the GOP's new property tax reform plan from taking place.
Northeastern Minnesota lawmakers are saying the property tax plan would not be so good for this area. (It won't be as good as for the Twin City suburbs -- but only because property values in the suburbs are so much higher than they are here.) The real truth is that under the House property tax reform plan, almost everybody's property taxes will go down.
Reports suggest that the two parties are about $100 million apart on property tax relief. The key, however, is not the dollar difference, but the reform of the basic system. Some local units of government are opposed to the plan because they would be held more accountable for their own spending. Many county commissioners and city councilors prefer the current shell game in which they can blame the state for high local property taxes.
If that is the case, then the refusal of the DFL Senate to cave in makes a little more sense. Unfortunately for the Senate, however, at one point in the negotiations, the Senate DFL agreed to the property tax reform plan, then backed away from it.
Thus, we expect the negotiations to go at least to June 30, and possibly beyond. The partial state government shutdown would begin July 1. We expect the DFL to propose a number of spending bills to "keep the lights on," which the Republicans would have to turn down to save the property tax reform package. In so doing, however, they will open themselves up to being blamed for the government shutdown.
The last time the Republicans opted for a government shutdown -- in 1995 at the federal level -- President Clinton and the Democrats crucified them.
This time is different. We believe that the property tax reform bill would be good for almost all Minnesotans. At one time the Senate DFL did too -- so the shutdown blame will not be one-sided this time. Property tax reform is worth the fight.

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