St. Paul, MN (NNCNOW.com) - A $1.1 billion deficit is priority number one at the Capitol. The DFL controlled house and senate, along with the Governor will need to work together to fix the budget.
It's a new year and a new legislature with a budget battle just beginning.
2013 marks the fifth year in a row that the state has faced a multi-billion dollar deficit.
"Unfortunately we have a history of borrowing and spending money we don't have and also a regressive tax structure, so I'd like to focus on a balanced budget," said Rep. Carly Melin (DFL - Dist. 6A).
That focus will rely heavily on Northland lawmakers in both the House and Senate to help balance what's projected to be an upwards of $35 million budget.
It's going to require a balanced set of circumstances to balance that budget," said Rep. Tom Anzelc (DFL - Dist 5B). "Obviously there will need to be fine tuning of how the Government spends money."
I hear people talk about other issues," said Sen. Roger Reinert (DFL-Dist. 7). " Unless we get the budget done in a substantial way, they shouldn't even be addressed."
Freshman lawmakers like DFL Representative Erik Simonson, who is used to split second decisions in his day job as Duluth assistant fire chief, says the budget process will be different.
"I think the key is to take our time and make our decisions thoughtfully, and with deliberation and do what's right for Minnesota," the district 7B Representative said.
Should a budget be passed sooner than later, Northland lawmakers all agree job creation and education are next in line for discussion.
They say it all comes down to communication across the party aisle.
"We need to do big things," said Sen. Reinert. "If we end this session and haven't done that, that's a failure of the legislature."
Senate Republican Leader David Hann (R-Eden Prairie) and House Republican Leader Kurt Daudt (R-Crown) responded to the Senate and House DFL Leaders’ announcement about the upcoming session on Wednesday.
“Republicans are focused on practical, bipartisan solutions to grow our economy. We’re looking forward to working with all legislators as we share the desire to make Minnesota a great state. Our children share the same future,” said Senator Hann. “Our state’s budget outlook has improved because of Republican efforts of finding efficiencies, smart reforms, and prioritizing spending. New Minnesota business filings are up 18 percent, and unemployment has gone down. More than 55,000 new Minnesota jobs have been created in the last year.”
The Governor is expected to release his biennium budget proposal by the end of this month. It's just the first step in what could be a lengthy discussion.
199 House and Senate members were sworn in Tuesday. 52 are fresh faces at the Capitol. This is the first time in 22 years the DFL has majority in the House and Senate.