Posted at 6:31 AM on August 31, 2009
by Tim Pugmire
Filed under: Daily Digest
Congresswoman Betty McCollum hosts a health care forum tonight in St. Paul, but there's only room for 400.
President Obama's ambassador picks are mostly wealthy donors, including Minneapolis attorney Sam Kaplan.
Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Sen. Amy Klobuchar will speak at a deployment ceremony this afternoon for Minnesota soldiers headed to Afghanistan.
A Minnesota Senate committee begins its statewide tour of proposed public works projects.
City Pages profiles state GOP Chairman Tony Sutton.
Wisconsin's cigarette tax will go up 75 cents per pack on Tuesday, making it the fifth highest tax in the country.
Most of the DFL candidates for governor showed up for an event in Minneapolis.
The analysis of next year's Minnesota House races is already underway.
Gov. Pawlenty says sharing his ideas is a current priority.
John McCain's campaign manager says Pawlenty could have formidable appeal.
Posted at 11:43 AM on August 31, 2009
by Tim Pugmire
Voters weighed in on state leaders, government spending and taxes in a new survey conducted for the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce and Tunheim Partners. More than six out of 10 of the respondents said they'd be willing to pay more to improve specific services, such as education or long-term care. Here's the summary from the chamber:
ST. PAUL - Minnesotans are looking for less partisan leadership and a better return on their tax dollars, according to a survey conducted for the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce and Tunheim Partners.
The majority of respondents said state government should not raise taxes. Sixty-three percent advocated cutting overall government spending to balance the state budget. However, more than six out of 10 also said they'd be willing to personally pay more to improve services like K-12 outcomes, long-term care, and ensuring Minnesota's infrastructure.
The findings were part of the Minnesota Leadership and Role of Government Survey co-sponsored by the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce and Tunheim Partners, a strategic communications firm in Minneapolis. The poll surveyed likely voters in the November 2010 election.
This poll comes as the nation is slowly climbing out of a recession and state lawmakers face the prospect of wrestling with another multibillion shortfall in the state general fund next year. Among poll respondents, 50 percent expect no change in their personal finances in the next year.
"Given the gridlock of recent legislative sessions, these poll results are not too surprising," said David Olson, Minnesota Chamber president. "Minnesotans want policy-makers who offer straight answers and less partisanship in addressing the state's most pressing problems."
Creating a competitive business environment is more important than ever as businesses compete in a global economy, Olson said. Yet, only 15 percent of the respondents said the state was doing a better job than the rest of the nation overall in this regard; 39 percent said Minnesota's efforts were worse than other states.
Among other issues important to a strong economy, 13 percent said Minnesota was doing a better job on lowering the cost of health care compared with other states; 25 percent said worse. Seventeen percent said the state excelled in holding the line on taxes compared with their counterparts and 37 percent said it was doing worse. As far as improving the economy overall, 19 percent said Minnesota fared better and 23 percent said it was performing worse.
"Accountability is the byword of these findings. Minnesotans are willing to pay taxes, but want to more clearly see what services and results they are getting," said Kathy Tunheim, president of Tunheim Partners. "The message was clear that citizens are expecting a better return on investment in the public sector."
Respondents were equally critical of all levels of government. Cities fared the best among government units when respondents were asked whether property taxes were delivering their desired results, and still only 50 percent approved. Respective numbers for school board and county government were 46 percent and 43 percent. Only 29 percent said their income and sales taxes paid to fund state government were achieving their expected results.
Respondents also weighed in on the 2010 gubernatorial election which features an open seat with Gov. Tim Pawlenty not seeking re-election. Neither Democrats nor Republicans start the race with any advantages, the results showed. Half the respondents said the next governor should have real-world experience and not be a career politician; about one-third said the individual should have government experience. Sixty-one percent wanted someone who stands by his or her principles compared with 31 percent who wanted someone who was willing to break campaign promises to accomplish the greater good.
Voters identified themselves into thirds among Democrats, Republicans and Independents when asked their party affiliation - showing that independent voters have a growing influence in the state's political landscape.
Among other noteworthy findings:
• Democratic and Republican legislators have a disapproval rating of 59 percent. Pawlenty has a slightly negative job approval rating of 49 percent.
• Looking ahead to the 2010 governor's race, the generic match-up has the Republican and Democratic candidate each supported by 27 percent and 33 percent undecided or dependent on the candidate.
• Fifty-nine percent said the state's high school and college graduates are able to compete globally; 54 percent said Minnesota businesses can globally compete.
• More than six out of 10 Minnesotans are willing to personally pay more for K-12 education, long-term care for seniors, and roads and bridges, but only if those services are improved.
• Taxing alcohol, tobacco and soda and extending the sales tax to clothing were the most acceptable tax increases for Minnesotans.
• Though the next legislative session is almost six months away, Minnesotans already identified their priorities. The top two were improving education (24 percent) and keeping taxes down (23 percent).
The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce is the state's largest business advocacy organization representing 2,400 members and half a million employees.
The poll was conducted by Momentum Analysis, a public opinion research firm based in Washington, DC. The random telephone survey of 602 respondents was conducted Aug. 4-6. All participants were screened to be likely November 2010 voters. Margin of error for the overall sample is plus-minus margin of error of 4 percentage points.
Posted at 4:42 PM on August 31, 2009
by Tim Pugmire
One hundred-thirty men and women from a Minnesota-based Army Reserve unit are getting ready for a deployment to Afghanistan.
A deployment ceremony for the troops from the 372nd Engineer Brigade was held this afternoon at Historic Fort Snelling. Their primary mission is the construction roads, bridges and military facilities. The soldiers will also mentor members of the Afghan National Army. During the ceremony, Sen. Al Franken, Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Gov. Tim Pawlenty offered praise to the soldiers and their families. You can listen to the audio of each of them speaking below.
Gov. Tim Pawlenty
Sen. Amy Klobuchar
Sen. Al Franken