Posted at 8:22 AM on February 24, 2009
by Tom Scheck
Filed under: Daily Digest
Happy Fat Tuesday. One thing that isn't fat anymore is the stock portfolios and retirement funds for millions of Americans. The Dow continued its free fall yesterday.
President Obama also announces that he's releasing $15 billion in stimulus aid for Medicaid.
Federal stimulus money will help but not cure the transit budget deficit.
MPR wonders whether the money will filter down to college students.
The Star Tribune says Minnesota could lose a Pell Grant boost.
Under the Dome
The budget balancing road tour continues. Legislative listening hearings will continue this week in the Twin Cities.
Metrodome officials argue that a new Vikings stadium would mean jobs.
The Star Tribune says the team is running up against a tough D (as in deficit).
MinnPost says the stadium trial balloon hits some turbulence.
Perhaps a Sage Rosenfels trade will change the Vikings luck?
Arts advocates groups lobby at the State Capitol today.
President Obama delivers his first speech to Congress.
Gary Locke is Obama's third pick for Commerce Secretary.
Obama's auto team drives imports.
New emissions rules for cars are in the works.
Gov. Pawlenty urges President Obama to invest in energy.
DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar meets with local leaders in northern Minnesota.
Klobuchar also writes an op-ed on the prospect of bringing confidence back to the banking system.
DFL Rep. Betty McCollum says she secured $20 million for the Central Corridor Light Rail line in the latest budget bill (no link yet).
GOP Rep. John Kline honors two Savage residents.
The DCCC is using GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann's "running out of rich people" comments to raise cash.
Bachmann counters with a fundraising letter of her own saying the DCCC is targeting her again.
DFL Rep. Jim Oberstar takes on White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs over the mileage tax. Oberstar said the Transportation Secretary got "slapped down."
2008 Race for U.S. Senate
The Pi Press says the final question is how many tossed votes will be tallied.
More absentee ballots are ruled in and out.
Minnesota's Elections Director took the stand in the trial.
The chair of the NRSC writes a letter predicting Coleman will win.
DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar says being the state's only senator has not been problematic, yet.
Al Franken asks to create two new recount funds.
Posted at 12:05 PM on February 24, 2009
by Tom Scheck
DFL House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher will be in Washington D.C. to attend President Obama's speech to Congress. The news release says Kelliher will be a guest of DFL Rep. Keith Ellison:
House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher will attend this evening's State of the Union address delivered by President Barack Obama. Kelliher has been invited to the U.S. Capitol by Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison.
"This is an extraordinary time in our country. We face enormous economic challenges, but Americans are also inspired by President Obama's message of hope." said Speaker Kelliher. "I am truly honored for the opportunity to witness this historic event."
While in the nation's capitol, Kelliher will take part in meetings with members of Congress regarding the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act signed last week by President Obama. Legislative leaders continue to receive new information about the recovery package and how states can best prepare to receive the federal funding.
"As states compete for this money, I want to ensure that Minnesota communicates clearly with Washington, D.C." said Speaker Kelliher. "We are grateful for the hard work of our congressional delegation. The Minnesota Legislature will do all it can to maximize the impact of those federal dollars."
Kelliher is traveling at her own expense to attend the Presidential address. She will leave for Washington later today and return tomorrow morning.
One clarification on the news release. It's not a State of the Union speech.
Update: Since you asked....
NPR's Ken Rudin provides some detail on why it's not a State of the Union speech:
But sometimes a president wants his address to be far more focused. Obama wants tomorrow night's speech to concentrate on the nation's economic problems, not everything under the sun. And that's why it's not a State of the Union address.
Posted at 4:43 PM on February 24, 2009
by Tim Pugmire
Legislation allowing the school year to begin before Labor Day has cleared a Minnesota House committee.
Members of the House K-12 Education Finance Division approved the bill today on a 13 to 5 vote. The measure would give school districts start-date flexibility for the next two school years, 2009-2010 and 2010-2011. Labor Day falls this year on September 7, and on September 6 next year.
Resorts owners oppose the measure. So does Rep. Tom Anzelc, DFL-Balsam Township, who said the bill would would make bad economic conditions worse.
"The tourism and hospitality industry is a critical player in this state's economy and tax collection," Anzelc said. "So give those people a chance."
The bill's chief author, Rep. Kim Norton, DFL-Rochester, explained her support of a two year moratorium is based on academics. Norton said she understands the concerns of resort owners, but added that local school leaders would still have options.
"This is not a mandate for school start time," Norton said. "It is a choice. Different areas can choose as they wish."
A required study of the impact of the Labor Day start date on the tourism industry was removed from the bill.
Posted at 5:24 PM on February 24, 2009
by Tom Scheck
Gov. Pawlenty and MnDOT Commissioner Tom Sorel will hit the road tomorrow to announce the transportation projects in Greater Minnesota that were funded by the federal stimulus bill. They're making stops in Rochester, Mankato, Cambridge, Duluth and St. Paul.
Posted at 5:29 PM on February 24, 2009
by Tom Scheck
Politico interviewed Gov. Pawlenty on the stimulus, Minnesota politics and his political future.
Here's an interesting nugget:
Q: Just a few years ago, Republicans were in control of the Minnesota legislature. You were elected governor. Now it seems like everything's collapsed for Minnesota Republicans. You barely won reelection. It looks like Coleman loses his seat. What happened to the Republican Party in Minnesota?
A: Well, I think it's a mirror of what happened nationally. But Minnesota also has deep Democratic or liberal roots. It's the land of Humphrey, Mondale, McCarthy, Wellstone. And it is a state that for almost all of its recent history was a pretty deep-blue state. It got a little purplish or competitive around 2002. But as the country has lurched back toward the Democrats, so has Minnesota. With the exception of [Indiana Gov.] Mitch Daniels, there isn't a Republican governor between me and the Atlantic Ocean.
Posted at 5:41 PM on February 24, 2009
by Tom Scheck
Politico is reporting that GOP Sen. Norm Coleman met with GOP leadership in the Senate and with RNC Chair Michael Steele this week. He also wouldn't rule out any further legal challenges:
"I'm not ruling it in or ruling it out, let's see what the court does and hopefully they'll do the right thing," Coleman said.
If Coleman does lose and appeals to a higher court, there are some questions as to when the election certificate should be issued. Gov. Pawlenty tells MPR that he may be forced to wait until any appeals on the state and federal level are exhausted.
The Deputy Secretary of State and a few legal scholars believe the law says the election certificate should be issued after the Minnesota Supreme Court weighs in on the election contest (for non-recount hawks, that's one step after the current trial observed by the three judge panel).
Here's my interview with Pawlenty on when he thinks it's appropriate to issue the election certificate:
One side note, The Minnesota Supreme Court could clear up some of the confusion over an election certificate rather quickly.
The court is currently considering a motion by Al Franken to require the governor and the secretary of state to issue and sign an election certificate declaring Franken the winner. The court could approve Franken's motion or even provide some direction on when the election certificate should be issued. So far there's been no indication of what the court might do.
Posted at 9:53 PM on February 24, 2009
by Tom Scheck
President Obama just finished his address to Congress. He mentioned the stimulus bill and its impact on Minneapolis in the speech:
Over the next two years, this plan will save or create 3.5 million jobs. More than 90% of these jobs will be in the private sector - jobs rebuilding our roads and bridges; constructing wind turbines and solar panels; laying broadband and expanding mass transit.
Because of this plan, there are teachers who can now keep their jobs and educate our kids. Health care professionals can continue caring for our sick. There are 57 police officers who are still on the streets of Minneapolis tonight because this plan prevented the layoffs their department was about to make.
Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak released his budget yesterday. He said cuts to LGA (through Gov. Pawlenty's unallotment of $13 million) would have forced him to make the cuts:
Rybak says if the $13 million budget gap had been applied equally among all city departments, 57 police positions would have been cut.
But the federal stimulus money is a one-shot deal which likely won't be around to pay for public safety costs next year. And that has Rybak concerned about the future.