Capitol notebook: 60,400 open jobs

Jobs are available in Minnesota.

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development reported Tuesday that state employers had 60,400 vacancies in the fourth quarter of 2013. That is the most openings in the fourth quarter for nine years.

Job vacancies were 2.6 percent higher than the same period in 2012. Still, there were 2.1 jobless Minnesotans for every open job.

“While there are still hardworking Minnesotans looking for employment, our data suggest the labor market is coming back into alignment in the wake of the recession,” DEED Commissioner Katie Clark Sieben said. “Increased job vacancies are a sign that the economy is growing and companies are looking for skilled workers.”

According to the study, 45 percent of openings were in greater Minnesota. Compared with a year earlier, job vacancies were up 11.3 percent in greater Minnesota and down 3.6 percent in the Twin Cities.

Health care and social assistance had the most job vacancies, followed by retail trade.

Businesses with 10 to 249 employees accounted for 64.5 percent of the vacancies.

Election judges wanted

The Minnesota secretary of state’s office Tuesday issued a plea for election judges.

About 30,000 Minnesotans are needed to serve at the Aug. 12 primary vote and the Nov. 4 general election.

Judges register voters, provide ballots, oversee ballot-counting machines and compile precinct voter statistics at the end of Election Day.

People interested in being judges may learn more at mnvotes.org.

Poll workers are guaranteed pay and granted time off from work by state law.

New Minnesota tax forms readied

The Minnesota Revenue Department has provided tax software companies all of the changes in tax forms and instructions following state law changes so software may be updated Thursday.

Also, state officials notified Minnesota libraries to destroy all paper income tax forms and instructions they have. New forms soon will be available on the Revenue Department website, www.revenue.state.mn.us.

The changes come after the Legislature and Gov. Mark Dayton approved $443 million in tax cuts, some of which apply to people now filing income tax returns.

Revenue Department officials say they continue to recommend that Minnesotans, and their tax preparers, not file taxes yet if they qualify for any of the new tax breaks (specifics are available at the department website). Tax preparers should wait until the department gives them the go-ahead to file, the department says. Those filing electronically can send in returns once their software is updated.

More than 56 percent of Minnesotans have filed returns, with 92 percent filed electronically.

House set to debate second tax bill

The second House tax bill is ready for the full House to debate, probably on Friday.

After legislators cut taxes $443 million a couple of weeks ago, the House Ways and Means Committee on Tuesday approved $103 million more in cuts. They include breaks for homeowners, farmers, renters and businesses.

The new breaks focus on property taxes.

The Senate likely will debate the tax bill next week.

The House is expected Thursday to take up a bill making changes in the $39 billion, two-year budget lawmakers passed last year. Senators could look at a similar bill as early as Friday.

Senators had planned to meet Saturday, but leaders announced Tuesday that will not happen.

On Thursday, senators plan to debate a bill written to reduce school bullying.

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