ST. PAUL, Minn. – For more than a decade, one mantra dominated the state capitol here: No new taxes. It was the guiding principle of former Gov. Tim Pawlenty and the unofficial campaign slogan of the Republicans who swept into power in 2010, taking total control of the legislature for the first time in decades.
That era is over.
The 2012 elections ushered in a significantly altered political environment here, one that provided Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton, elected in 2010, with friendly majorities in both chambers. For the first time since the 1980s, Democrats (known locally as DFLers, for Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party) hold all three levers of power in the capitol.
Now the debate in this legislative session isn't over whether to raise taxes, but by how much. More than that though, the DFLers in power see an opportunity. They talk of "reinvestment" and undoing what they see as the damage done by a decade of stagnant budgets and an outright refusal to raise taxes.