Gov. Pawlenty may have a fishing line in one hand and talking down the telephone line in the other as he tries to hammer out a budget deal with lawmakers this weekend.
With just three days left to the end of the legislative session, Pawlenty and lawmakers still are working to come up with a way to erase a nearly $3 billion budget deficit. Pawlenty, who is in northern Minnesota for the annual fishing opener, said he doesn't think the distance will be a factor.
Democrats say early Medicaid expansion is a key factor to the budget deal. That provision was in a HHS budget bill that Pawlenty vetoed. He signaled, however, that he's willing to talk. MPR, the Pi Press and the Star Tribune have stories.
The Star Tribune gets some Washington D.C. reaction as to why the $400 million in federal funds won't come to the Legislature before the legislative deadline to adjourn. State lawmakers tell MPR that they're looking at booking the money as a "contingency plan" but are worried that booking the funds could affect the State's bond rating.
Pawlenty named Justice Lorie Gildea as the Chief Justice of The Minnesota Supreme Court.
The House passed a bill that limits a governor's unallotment powers.
The Secretary of State's office says a media lawsuit could cost the state $224,000 in legal fees.
Pawlenty approved a revised driver's license for border crossings.
The union representing the State's conservation officers settled with the DNR for $35,000.
President Obama is expected to tee off on BP about the oil spill.
DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar met with Elena Kagan.
The U.S. Senate passed DFL Sen. Al Franken's amendment that stops banks from shopping for a credit agency.
GOP Rep. John Kline says he's concerned about giving more money to Race to the Top.
Kline also wants extra electronic spy sensors placed in the far outposts in Afghanistan.
DFL Rep. Betty McCollum is no longer on the foreign operations appropriations subcommittee.
A food expert says food stamps should be banned from being used on sugary sodas. DFL Rep Collin Peterson says it's something they should look at.
U.S. Airlines fight a plan to allow for higher ticket taxes. DFL Rep. Jim Oberstar is mentioned.
Democrats criticize Republican Tom Emmer for missing votes in the past week.
The MNGOP counters that Democrat Margaret Anderson Kelliher also missed votes since she won the DFL endorsement.
Democrat Matt Entenza talked about his plan for economic growth.
GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann's campaign website has been hacked.
Bachmann's DFL opponent, Tarryl Clark, rips Bachmann for her out of state travel.
Republican Marty Seifert, a former candidate for governor, writes a must read on what it takes to run for governor.
From MPR's Tom Weber:
Carl Harris, an official with the U.S. Education Department, will appear with Congressman Keith Ellison on Monday (5/17) at a forum on closing the achievement gap.
Harris's official title is deputy assistant secretary for policy and strategic initiatives in the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education. He'll start the day Monday with tours of Richfield and South High Schools in Richfield and Minneapolis, before attending the 4:30 p.m. forum at Columbia Heights Senior High.
Harris, a former Durham, NC superintendent, has Minnesota ties, which were apparent last weekend when he gave the commencement address at his alma mater, Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall. Harris graduated from SMSU in 1976 with a degree in Health and Physical Education.
*** Of note: Harris's ultimate boss at the Department of Education, Secretary Arne Duncan, will be in Madison tomorrow (5/15) to deliver a commencement address at the University of Wisconsin.
The House and Senate have finished their work for the day and are scheduled to come back at noon tomorrow. Meanwhile, Governor Pawlenty and DFL legislative leaders are scheduled to hold a conference call tonight at 8:30 to continue budget negotiations. The same issues are in play (ratification of unallotments, K12 shift and Medicaid expansion) for a deal. But there appears to be some saber rattling over the Health and Human Services portion of the deal.
"Early option Medical Assistance is very important for us to come to an agreement," DFL House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher said. "I think it makes it extremely difficult to get a deal wlithout it."
Kelliher said she was working to craft a budget deal but said she's leaving all options on the table including the possibility of a special session if one is needed.
It appears that the Health and Human Services bill could be the key factor in whether a deal gets done. House and Senate Democrats want to shift low income Minnesotans from two state health programs into a federal program. They argue that the plan will provide health care coverage for another 20,000 Minnesotans and stabilize funding for hospitals and other health care providers.
Governor Pawlenty and Republicans in the House and Senate are objecting to the surcharges on hospitals, HMOs and other health centers to pay for the program.
Pawlenty's spokesman Brian McClung sent a statement to reporters saying the proposals is "problematic because of the DFL's insistence on surcharges as well as a lack of support for early enrollment from Republicans." McClung said in a follow up e-mail that Pawlenty remains open to discussing the issue..
Lawmakers are working to craft a budget deal and pass it before the Sunday midnight deadline to adjourn. DFL Senate Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller spent a large part of the day criticizing the governor's approach to solving the nearly $3 billion budget deficit. He said Pawlenty is relying on shifts and gimmicks that won't solve the state's long-term budget problem. Pogemiller said , however, that he's holding out hope a budget deal will be reached. He said Senate Democrats are prepared to send Pawlenty another bill that reduces the size of the deficit if a deal isn't reached.
"For sure, I think we should send $700 or $800 million in cuts or budget reductions," Pogemiller said. "Some of those are budget reductions that the Governor doesn't support but at some point you have to do something."
All four legislative leaders are scheduled to appear on TPT's Almanac tonight at 7pm.