State Finance officials will release the budget forecast today and no one is expecting good news. Gov. Pawlenty and folks in his administration are suggesting the deficit in the current budget cycle could be between $1 billion and 1.5 billion. House and Senate DFLers say privately that they think it will likely be between $500 million and $1 billion. Are DFLers too optimistic? Are Pawlenty's folks trying to drive up the number so it doesn't look as bad when it comes in at a lower number? We'll know later this morning.
Here's a few numbers that matter: AP says 9 of the 13 twice-yearly forecasts done since Tim Pawlenty became governor have shown deficits.
MPR says the elimination of General Assistance Medical Care will mean that many ex-offenders may be forced to lose their anti-psychotic meds. That could mean a trip back to prison for some of them.
Immigrant detention grows in Minnesota.
Minnesota ranks sixth in students with college debt.
The PUC approves a CenterPoint rate increase.
An organization helps disabled veterans find jobs.
President Obama announces a plan to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan.
Here's reaction from most of the delegation.
MinnPost says Democrats are reacting cautiously to the proposal.
The Star Tribune focuses on what DFL Rep. Tim Walz and GOP Rep. John Kline, both veterans, think about the plan. DFL Rep. Keith Ellison will likely oppose it.
DFL Rep. Betty McCollum wants a tax to pay for the troop increase.
The CBO says the stimulus created or saved jobs.
Some Democrats are criticizing the first stimulus bill. Oberstar is mentioned.
Tempers flare as the Senate nears a health care vote.
A new public option plan is being considered.
President Obama punted on higher ethanol blends.
Here's a look at the delegation's office expenditures.
A Duluthian is placed on Obama's jobs team. DFL Rep. Jim Oberstar made the recommendation.
2010 Race for Congress
Another mystery candidate will enter the race today. The Rochester Post-Bulletin suggests Jim Hagedorn, son of former Congressman Tom Hagedorn, is the candidate.
CQ suggests Julie Rosen and Brad Finstad could also get into the race. One problem for Finstad is that he authored the Twins ballpark bill, which could upset GOP delegates.
2010 Race for Governor
Mark Dayton is asking supporters to give him $1. Is it an effort to boost the number of contributors to the candidate who typically self funds his campaigns?
Pawlenty for Prez Watch
Politico says GOP candidates, including Pawlenty, are running from the climate change bill.
IRV backers in St. Paul are fined $5,000 but still win.
A report from the state budget department says the state is deep in red ink for the 2010-2011 budget cycle. The report says 70 percent of the 1.2 billion dollar deficit is due to lower than expected income tax receipts. The document also said the budget problem will grow even larger in the future with a projected budget deficit of $5.4 billion in the 2012-2013 budget.
The forecast means Governor Pawlenty and DFL lawmakers will have to cut spending or increase revenue to balance the state's budget. In July, Pawlenty unilaterally cut $2.7 billion in spending after he couldn't reach a budget deal with the Legislature. Lawmakers begin the 2010 session on February 4th.
We're expecting the candidates for governor to react to Minnesota's bad budget news
The first news release is from former U.S. Sen. Mark Dayton. We'll post the others in the space as they come in.
Here's Dayton's statement:
Continuing State Deficits Caused by Failed State Leadership
DFL Gubernatorial candidate Mark Dayton said today, "Minnesota's new budget deficit is further evidence that our state is in crisis. Partly, it is caused by the national economic crisis, which President Obama inherited. However, Minnesota's crisis is also the result of failed state policies.
"Our state's economy used to perform better than the rest of the country during both good and bad economic times. Yet, in recent years, Minnesota has consistently ranked in the bottom ten states in employment growth. Over 220,000 Minnesotans are unemployed today. More than 100,000 of them lost their jobs this year. These economic failures have turned previous fiscal challenges into the current, continuing state budget crises.
"Governor Pawlenty attacked last summer's deficit unfairly. I would solve this one fairly, by raising taxes on the wealthiest 10% of Minnesotans, who the Governor's own Revenue Department reports are paying only 3/4ths of their proportionate share of state and local taxes.
"It is imperative that Governor Pawlenty place the best interests of the people of Minnesota ahead of his own Presidential ambitions. He can show leadership and political courage by doing what is necessary an right: raise taxes on the rich."
Statement from Democrat Matt Entenza:
"Today's announcement about Minnesota's budget deficit was not unexpected - difficult to hear, but not unexpected. The truth is we'll never be able to fix our budget problem until we fix our economy problem. We can't tax our way out of this nor cut our way out of it; we must grow our way out of it. That's why my main focus is on growing Minnesota's economy. I believe Minnesota can become the Silicon Valley of clean energy. We should be installing and manufacturing thousands of new wind turbines, pushing energy conservation and leading in the next generation of biomass. Doing this will create thousands of new jobs and economic opportunity in every corner of Minnesota."
Statement from Democrat Paul Thissen:
What I find most troubling about the budget forecast is the story it tells about what is happening outside the walls of the state Capitol. Thousands of Minnesota families are just not making it and that is what we need to keep our eye on as elected leaders.
We have ignored the bottom line of Minnesota families for too long. As we now move to rebuilding our state, we need to learn that lesson and prioritize basic economic security issues.
Now is a time for action.If I were governor, I would call the legislature into special session immediately because the longer we wait, the worse the pain will be for Minnesota families.
Statement from DFLer Steve Kelley:
Under Tim Pawlenty's leadership, Minnesota's budget forecasts have been in the hole ten times. Pawlenty has sacrificed our long-term economic stability for short-term gimmicks.
Our state budget is how we live our values. It puts 290,000 Minnesotans to work. Teachers, nurses, police, firefighters, and thousands more depend on a balanced state budget to provide for their families. Another round of unallotment will undoubtedly mean layoffs, greater unemployment, and more struggling families. Minnesotans ought to demand an accounting of the jobs that will be lost from unallotment or any budget solution.
This forecast is an indictment of the Minnesota Republican economic philosophy. It's time to restore fiscal responsibility and long-term economic prosperity to our state.
Statement from DFLer Margaret Anderson Kelliher:
Today economists delivered a grim financial forecast - we face yet another budget deficit. This on-going budget crisis must be resolved. It is time for Minnesota to break this cycle. We need a Governor who will level with Minnesotans. We need a Governor who does not rely on cu ts alone to balance the budget. Solving our current economic shortfall and creating economic security will take a balanced approach and require the right mix of spending cuts and revenue increases.
Today's budget forecast is a reminder that Governor Pawlenty's unallotment did not balance Minnesota's two-year budget. It was a quick political fix that solved nothing. Governor Pawlenty, Rep. Seifert and the House Republicans chose politics over the best interest of Minnesotans. I will be a very different kind of Governor.
The next session is going to be a challenge. Focused on his national ambitions, Governor Pawlenty appears determined to keep his "no new taxes" pledge regardless of the toll it takes on the people of Minnesota. However, our challenges can become new opportunities. With bold new leadership in 2011 and beyond, we can take the opportunity to reform the way Minnesota does business by implementing an economic development plan that will create jobs and improve our economy, balance our budget, and invest in education and health care.
To make these opportunities a reality, Minnesota needs a proven leader. The next Governor will have only twelve weeks from the day she is elected to propose a full budget, with progressive tax reform. Minnesota needs a leader who has stood up and fought for what is best for our state---someone who understands the difficulties Minnesotans face, and who will bring people together to create long term solutions and secure our future.
I have a track record of bringing people together to solve problems and resolve issues. I've taken on the partisan forces in state government and won. After the 35W bridge collapse, Governor Pawlenty told me he would never sign a transportation reform bill. I knew what I needed to do: I brought together a broad coalition that worked together to make Minnesota's roads and bridges safer, and we overrode the governor's veto.
In the 2010 election, we have the chance to work together again and ensure that Minnesota has the Governor it deserves. It will take another broad, strong and diverse coalition and I need you to be part of that effort.
Please join me in this campaign. Become part of the coalition by visiting my website and signing up as a Grassroots Endorser. You can also sign up to join our team of amazing volunteers and pledge to caucus for me on February 2, 2010. I also hope you will consider m aking a financial investment in the campaign - your contribution of $50, $100 or $250 will help build a people-powered campaign to identify caucus attendees and allow me to bring the message about my candidacy to Minnesotans in every corner of our state.
Here's a statement from Democrat Tom Rukavina:
"The bad news in the budget forecast yesterday was not unexpected for most of us. When you try to deceive the public with Enron accounting gimmicks, it eventually catches up to you. It caught up to Tim Pawlenty and now all of us have to pull together to fix this nightmare.
We have used up all the available pots of money like tobacco settlements, health care accounts, workers compensation surpluses and special funds to try and keep Pawlenty's dishonest "no new tax" pledge. As a result of this, we now have to resort to stealing reserve money from college students, passing property tax increases, shifting school payments, and issuing 10,000 seat belt violations in a two week period to raise money.
The bottom line is that the middle class gets hammered again. I am running for governor to put an end to all this and bring sanity back to state budgeting.
We need to stop the gimmicks and get back to a balanced budget by raising taxes fairly through income taxes based on ability to pay. We have the biggest debt per capita in the country. People are losing their jobs and homes and our Governor is going on vacation in South America.
We need a jobs program that gets people back to work so they can prosper and help put our economy back on track. I have a proven track record of creating jobs, putting more money in working people's pockets. Raising taxes in a fair manner that doesn't cripple the middle class should be our goal.
I want to be your Governor because I love this state and I am disgusted that in his eight years as governor and four years as majority leader, Tim Pawlenty has taken this state from having a $6 billion surplus to having an $8 billion deficit. He has jeopardized the future of our kids in exchange for his political future.
Hey, maybe Minnesota is better off with him out of state 29 times since June while he is running for President. I've never liked one-way tickets, but it may be a good investment for our state if Tim Pawlenty gets one for his trip to South America."
Statement from Republican Tom Emmer:
Rep. Tom Emmer, Republican candidate for governor, spoke out Wednesday on the state's projected $1.2 billion deficit. Emmer has offered legislation which would require the legislature to balance the state budget before any new spending is proposed.
"My bill, First Things First, would require the legislature to address any budget shortfall before any new spending is added to the taxpayers' burden." Emmer said, "This bill would force the big spenders in St. Paul to focus on fixing the problem before they add to it."
Emmer expressed hope that in the next legislative session the majority party would be more willing to take his common sense proposal seriously.
"I authored the same bill last session and the Democrat leadership wouldn't even allow a vote on it. With business and family budgets at a breaking point, it only makes sense that we pass this bill into law this time around."
At a time when Minnesotans are struggling, Rep. Emmer believes that to stimulate the economy and encourage job creation, the state government should act responsibly and not overburden Minnesotans and job creators.
"We will get out of this recession faster if Minnesota's people and businesses are allowed to flourish. It is a mistake to think that government can lead the way with big government, Obama-style pork programs."
Emmer stressed that creating an environment where business and free enterprise can flourish will solve the budget crisis by encouraging the creation of desperately needed private-sector jobs.
"This deficit puts into focus the importance of electing a governor who is serious about reigning in the growth of state government spending and fostering the expansion of private enterprise," said Emmer.
"We got into debt by driving away jobs and the businesses through high taxes and stifling regulations. Minnesota needs a governor who understands that freedom and private enterprise are the engines that drive Minnesota, not a bloated state government."
Republican Jim Hagedorn is the latest Republican candidate to jump in the race in Minnesota's 1st Congressional District. Hagedorn, son of former GOP Congressman Tom Hagedorn. Here's part of the release from Jim Hagedorn.
"The greatness of America is under assault by the liberal politicians who run Washington, D.C.," said Hagedorn. "The big government agenda of President Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Tim Walz is in direct conflict with our free enterprise system and the enduring principles of liberty, individual opportunity, personal responsibility and traditional cultural values."
"Washington, D.C. is out of control," Hagedorn continued. "Our leaders are spending borrowed money faster than it can be printed, taxing and regulating producers into submission, plotting the takeover of whole sectors of our economy and driving us toward European socialism." "Tim Walz claims to be a thoughtful moderate, but his complete embrace of the Obama-Pelosi agenda has exposed Tim Walz as a thoughtless liberal," said Hagedorn.
"I left Capitol Hill and returned to help the people I love the most because this country is worth defending, our way of life is worth saving and the people of Southern Minnesota are worth fighting for," Hagedorn stated.
A native of Blue Earth, Jim worked with his dad and grandfather on the family's grain and hog farm located just outside Truman. In 1974, Jim's father, Tom, was elected to Congress to represent Southern Minnesota, which he served until 1983. "Living on the farm and being part of our rural communities ingrained in me the small town values that have sustained me throughout life," Hagedorn said.
Hagedorn's announcement comes one day after state Rep. Randy Demmer entered the race. Former State Sen. Allen Quist is also running.
I'm expecting Hagedorn to call me. I'll post the interview here when he does. Here's an interview with Hagedorn: Listen
Update: DFL Party Chair Brian Melendez released this statement on Hagedorn:
"Typical of the 'Party of No,' Jim Hagedorn is jumping into the First District race by launching baseless partisan attacks at Representative Walz -- because Hagedorn himself has no substance to run on.
"Jim Hagedorn is a 25-year Capitol Hill operative turned lobbyist, now trying to use his connections to buy himself a seat in Congress. He is yet another Republican hoping to cozy up to right-wing tea-baggers to further his own ambitions. The Tea Party Republicans are constantly attacking government of any form, so it will be interesting to see how they receive Jim Hagedorn, who has been a federal-government insider for nearly all his adult life.
"Throughout his tenure, Representative Walz has fought for southern Minnesotans in Congress and has consistently delivered -- working to create jobs and help families deal with the skyrocketing costs of health care. The hard work that Representative Walz puts in for Minnesota's families every day, and the results that he has delivered, show how an effective representative operates."
The Minnesota Association of Professional Employees is urging Gov. Pawlenty to put his presidential aspirations on hold. In a news release, MAPE executive director Jim Monroe says Pawlenty should do the job he's elected to do:
"Once again, the dire economic news released today paints a very bleak picture for the people of Minnesota.
"Last May, MAPE outlined millions of dollars in waste that included out-of-state travel, uncollected revenue and the Pawlenty Administration's bloated management. The result of MAPE shining the light on certain administration practices was $10 million trimmed from out-of-state travel and the Department of Revenue stepping up collection efforts on money owed to our state. These are positive steps, but more action is needed to cut waste to preserve vital services for Minnesotans.
"Governor Pawlenty, with Minnesota facing a $1.2 billion state budget deficit for the remainder of this biennium, we ask that you put your presidential aspirations on hold, focus on the job you were elected to perform, sit down with us and work together to resolve the state's ongoing economic crisis."
Side note: Pawlenty is out of the state tomorrow. He's travelling to Michigan to attend a prayer breakfast. He'll be in Chicago to attend a fundraiser for his PAC.
The Minnesota Republican Party is running a radio ad ripping DFL Rep. Tim Walz for voting for the health care overhaul bill. Here's the ad.
I'm still trying to find out the size of the ad buy and where it's running.
A spokesman for the MNGOP says the ad buy is "five figures and will run in southern Minnesota."
Gov. Pawlenty said he will rely on only spending cuts to erase a projected $1.2 billion budget deficit in the current biennium. He also said he may unallot again -- aid to local governments -- before the end of the year. Here's the video of his opening statement:
House and Senate DFLers say they want to address the state's budget problems over the long-term. DFL Senate Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller and DFL House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher didn't offer specifics but say the state needs a greater focus on job creation. Here are the opening statements from Pogemiller and Kelliher:
Minnesota Congressman Jim Oberstar is endorsing state Sen. Tarryl Clark, DFL-St.Cloud, in 6th district congressional bid.
Clark is seeking the DFL endorsement to run against incumbent Republican Congreswoman Michele Bachmann next fall. Oberstar praised Clark in a fundraising message to her supporters:
"Tarryl is a seasoned, experienced legislator," Oberstar wrote. "She knows her district, and she knows central Minnesota. She knows the needs of the people of this area -- their economic needs, their transportation needs, and their community service needs. She knows how to work in a legislative environment, to work across party lines and to bring people together for a consensus to build a better future for us in Minnesota."Dr. Maureen Reed is also a DFL candidate running in the 6th district.
Posted at 5:23 PM on December 2, 2009
by Tim Pugmire
Today's DFL response to the state economic forecast, and its projected $1.2 billion deficit, included a renewed threat to fire one of Gov. Tim Pawlenty's commissioners.
Senate Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller, DFL-Minneapolis, said the revenue problem highlighted in the forecast means the state needs to do more to create jobs.
Pogemiller, didn't mention Department of Employment and Economic Development Commissioner Dan McElroy by name, but the message was clear.
"I think there needs to be some new leadership in the job creation area," Pogemiller said. "I've asked the governor to provide new leadership on his own. I hope he would do that."
Pogemiller made a similar threat last year, but the Senate never took up McElroy's confirmation during the 2009 session.
Posted at 6:03 PM on December 2, 2009
by Tom Scheck
Filed under: Campaign 2010
Former St. Paul School Board member Tom Conlon says he's seeking the GOP endorsement for State Auditor. Conlon, served as a school board member from 1992 until last summer. In a news release, he said he's running for Auditor because ""In difficult economic times for families and taxpayers, as well as Minnesota's local governments, accountability in how we spend our tax dollars is essential." Conlon said. "We cannot do business as usual when people are hurting."
Conlon will run against fellow Republicans Jeffrey Wiita, a veteran staffer in the auditor's office, and Long Lake Mayor Randy Gilbert.
Democrat Rebecca Otto is serving her first term.