With Dayton's Win, Minnesota Tax Fight Looms

 
Republican Tom Emmer's concession today confirms that Mark Dayton , a former U.S. senator, will be the next governor of Minnesota . But it's likely to suspend squabbling between Republicans and Democrats for only a few weeks. The next fight is likely to be over the budget. Democrat Dayton, who beat Emmer by 9,080 votes out of more than 2 million cast, favors an income tax on the rich to close the state's $6.2 billion shortfall in the upcoming biennium. Republicans, with new majorities in the Minnesota House and Senate, don't want to raise taxes. That reflects a reversal: In recent years, it was the Republican governor, Tim Pawlenty, who steadfastly opposed tax increases offered by Democratic legislators. "They will reject my proposal and they will come with their alternatives," Dayton said of the new legislature, according to MinnPost . "They will have to face the impact that will have on teachers, children, the elderly, the disabled. Then they will come back to the table to find the middle ground."

Rhode Island 's incoming governor and incoming attorney general are working out their immigration policies.  Independent Governor-elect Lincoln Chafee has pledged to remove a requirement that state agencies and contractors check employees in E-Verify, a federal database designed to confirm the immigration status of workers. He's described it as divisive. At the same time, Attorney General-elect Peter Kilmartin , a Democrat, plans to sign Rhode Island up for a different federal immigrant verification system, the Providence Journal reports . He'll enter Rhode Island in the Secure Communities Program, which checks people who have been arrested against an immigration database. In the Journal , a Chafee spokesman downplayed any split, saying the governor-elect was "comfortable" with the move.

Kansas Governor-elect Sam Brownback 's pick for budget director is Steve Anderson , who has worked for Americans for Prosperity, a leading small-government, free-market group. Anderson, the Kansas City Star reports , has developed model state budgets for the organization. Republicans in Kansas have been closely watching Brownback's early moves for clues as to whether he'll side with the party's moderate or conservative factions. Brownback also announced he'll retain Secretary of Transportation Deb Miller , who's served under the last two Democratic governors.

Fresh off a reelection victory, Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley will offer an early retirement program for state workers, the Baltimore Sun reports . O'Malley, a Democrat who had the backing of Maryland's largest state employee union in the campaign, has vowed to avoid layoffs. He's also pledged not to raise taxes in next year's budget, despite the state's looming $1.6 billion shortfall. He describes the buyout offers as one way to reduce spending, while trying to keep those promises.

Ron Saxton was the Republican nominee for governor in Oregon in 2006. This year, he's helping to craft the plans of a Democratic administration, the Oregonian reports . Governor-elect John Kitzhaber has picked Saxton to co-chair his education transition team, which is being asked to study ways to make school funding more stable from year to year. Saxton, a former member of the Portland School Board, won 43 percent of the vote in 2006, losing to Democrat Ted Kulongoski. 

 
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