The legislative session started Tuesday, and it already appears that not much has changed since the legislature closed out its business after the special session last June. Efforts to fast-track an extension of unemployment benefits failed as the DFL legislators advocated for a “clean bill” that dealt only with the benefits extension, while Republican lawmakers insisted that the benefits extension be linked to a significant reduction in unemployment taxes for businesses.

On Wednesday night, Gov. Dayton gave his annual State of the State address at the University of Minnesota. He sounded largely familiar themes: support for modest spending and perhaps some modest tax cuts, the need for a robust bonding bill focused on clean water initiatives, support for the child care tax credit, and the need for a comprehensive transportation plan.

Republicans were skeptical that even modest spending increases would be appropriate, while at the same time pushing for much more aggressive tax cuts — a move that Governor Dayton claimed would put the state budget on a “fiscal precipice.”

The Dayton Administration appears very serious about protecting what they see as the gains made in stabilizing the state’s fiscal situation. The extent to which House Republicans insist on deep tax cuts versus how far the Governor and Senate Democrats feel they can go will likely be the defining tension of the session.