February 2006 Archive

February 28, 2006
Money talks

Legislators today will get the last piece of information they need before they start their session. The new revenue forecast will show whether the state's $31 billion budget is on track.

The last forecast showed a slight surplus and was the cause of much rejoicing. No matter what today's forecast shows there are still some troubling signs on the horizon for the state's economy, most notably a slowdown in job growth that no one seems able to explain.

If the forecast projects a deficit, it could prompt some action from the governor to refashion the so-called health care access fee into a regular cigarette tax. He can always blames the courts for screwing it up. If it shows a surplus, it frees him up to cut loose the fee and stand by his no new taxes pledge. At least that's the way you would expect it work. It becomes increasingly hard to even speculate about what will happen now that we've entered the post-government shutdown world.

As for news, while the papers and TV were focused on the introduction of a cell phone bill, MPR's Tom Scheck had a piece about the state GOP sending out a video on gay marriage ban debate to voters in DFL districts:

Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer, Auditor Pat Anderson and House Speaker Steve Sviggum are each presented by themselves in an office. The Minnesota state flag and other important symbols of government surround them. They take turns talking about family values, and the danger of "activist judges." They also complain about DFLers holding up the vote in the Minnesota Senate, which the Democrats control.

And speaking of the gay marriage ban, there's news from the Associated Press about the measure's chief sponsor:

State Sen. Michele Bachmann has suspended her congressional campaign while she enters a hospital for medical treatment, her campaign staff announced Monday.

Bachmann, one of four Republican candidates for the seat being
vacated by U.S. Rep. Mark Kennedy while he runs for the U.S.
Senate, will be off the campaign trail for at least three days,
spokesman Jon Dean said.

The campaign is declining to release the reason for her hospital
stay, Dean said.

"For now, it's best left a private matter between her and her
family," he said.

As for that previously mentioned cell phone bill, the Star Tribune puts it on the front page:

Donny Harder's road to political activism began in a car driven by his older sister.

"We were driving down Nicollet Avenue and this guy whips out a cell phone and swerved really close to us," the Minneapolis 14-year-old said. "I thought, 'I really have to change this.' "

The experience prompted him to seek a state law to crack down on motorists for traffic violations committed while using cell phones.

Well, if that doesn't deserve front page treatment, I don't know what does.

Gary Eichten talked to Mike Hatch yesterday and talks to Kelly Doran today at 11 on Midday. He's trying to get all the major candidates for governor and U.S. Senate on before caucus night March 7. It's definitely worth a listen if you haven't heard these folks yet.

Posted by Mike Mulcahy at 6:25 AM