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ISSUES IN THE BATTLE FOR THE LEGISLATURE
Budget: The next two-year budget will be Job One for the 2013-14 Legislature. A $2.4 billion debt to public schools remains to be paid, and a $1.1 billion deficit is predicted between revenues and expenses.
Education: Funding for local schools and performance of students, particularly in urban areas, is a perennial issue, and the school debt adds weight this year.
Taxes: DFLers accuse Republicans of making changes in state programs that raised local property taxes, which Republicans say is off-base. Gov. Mark Dayton still wants to raise income taxes on upper-income Minnesotans, which Republicans believe would hurt the state's job growth.
Shutdown: Both sides will battle over who was responsible for the three-week partial state shutdown in July 2011.
Competitiveness: Republicans say keeping a lid on taxes and easing permitting processes are vital to making the state more business-friendly.
Amendments: GOP-supported constitutional amendments to ban same-sex marriage and to change election procedures are on the ballot; they were opposed by most DFL members. Candidates are being asked their position on these amendments during doorstep visits.
Federal issues: Health care reform, the federal deficit, the national economy and the presidential race create the backdrop for Minnesota's legislative races.