The Minnesota House will aim to pass a bill that would cut $1 billion in state funding.
The only problem, AP says, is that a part of their budget balancing plan relies on $200 million in cuts that isn't there.
AP also says eliminating all of the exemptions in the sales tax would help fix the deficit but no one is willing to touch them.
Gov. Dayton speaks to the Minesota Newspaper Association at noon. He will then head to Jackson, MN to discuss economic development matters.
A panel in the House approves a bill that would no longer require background checks for handguns are semiautomatic weapons. Law enforcement officials oppose the measure.
The House and Senate GOP are also pushing a bill that would require voters to present a photo ID at the polls.
The House Education Committee will look at new ways to license teachers today.
There's increased talk that a new Vikings stadium could be in Arden Hills.
Former UnitedHealth executive Lois Quam will lead the U.S. State Department's Global Health Initiative.
GOP Rep. John Kline says there was one GOP response and that was Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan was the one to give it. He made the comment after being asked about GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann's rebuttal.
Bachmann's speech stirs talk of whether the GOP is divided.
DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar won the Hot Dish cookoff.
2012 Race for Congress
DFL Rep. Jim Oberstar says he doesn't see "any such circumstance" that he could make another run.
Pawlenty for Prez Watch
Tim Pawlenty will sign books in Burnsville and St. Cloud today.
The PoliGraph says Pawlenty's claim in federal spending leaves out key information.
He has committed to speak to a conservative group in New Hampshire.
This is the fourth in a series of fact checks this week reviewing former Gov. Tim Pawlenty's book - Courage to Stand - as he tours the nation promoting it and exploring the possibility of a run for president.
Pawlenty frequently says that he drove down state spending during his administration.
Here's what he wrote about the issue on page 183 of his book:
"The average two-year increase in Minnesota state spending from 1960, the year I was born, until I became Governor was about 21 percent. We brought that down dramatically to an average of 1.7 percent per year during my time as Governor. And for the first time in the 150-year history of Minnesota, we reduced state spending in real terms."
At first blush, his claim checks out. But a deeper look reveals Pawlenty is being selective with the numbers and is omitting important context and adjustments.
Minnesota writes new budgets every two years, so spending can be measured in one- and-two year cycles.
Yes, according to Minnesota Management and Budget, the average two-year spending increase between 1960 and 2003, the year Pawlenty took office, was indeed roughly 21 percent.
However, the numbers used to figure the rate of increase were not adjusted for inflation or population growth. Accounting for these variables would show flatter state spending over time. As a result, Pawlenty's performance looks stellar.
Moreover, Pawlenty compared his one-year average rate of spending increase (1.7 percent) with the unadjusted two-year average, which inflates the gap between spending under his administration and his predecessors'. The state's unadjusted one-year average is 10 percent. (Inflation-adjusted data are not available.)
Furthermore, Pawlenty's claim doesn't reveal two favorable events in the most recent budget cycle: roughly $500 million in federal dollars for K-12 education that effectively lowered state spending in fiscal years 2010-2011 and the delay of $1.9 billion in payments to schools to future budget cycles.
The final part of Pawlenty's claim, that for the "first time in the 150-year history of Minnesota, we reduced state spending," is even harder to pin down, in large part because the Legislature and budget department don't readily have data going back that far. And even if the numbers were available, the General Fund of 1860 would be too different from the General Fund of 2011 to compare accurately.
Nevertheless, it appears that Pawlenty is being selective with the numbers on this point, as well. According to the budget department, it's a fact that the 2010-2011 two-year budget cycle is the only time since 1960 that the state decreased spending in terms of dollars. But on an annual basis, general fund spending declined in 1983, 1986, and 2004 as well, according to the same document.
The average state spending increase was indeed smaller during Pawlenty's administration.
However, Pawlenty's claim is misleading because he mixes a two-year average with a one-year average to make his spending restraint look stronger than it was. And when comparing the recent record with past decades he also doesn't account for inflation and population growth, federal stimulus money and an accounting shift. Finally, the governor cites 150 years of history with no source for where he got his information.
Minnesota Management and Budget, Historical Expenditures: General and All Funds, last updated Dec. 2, 2010, accessed Jan. 25, 2010
Minnesota 2020, State of the State Fact Check, by Jeff Van Wychen, Feb. 11, 2010
Minnesota Budget Bites, Governor's Budget Spares K-12 But Cost Shifts Remain, by Scott Russell, Feb. 22, 2010
Interview Bill Marx, Chief Financial Analyst, Minnesota House of Representatives, Jan. 26, 2010
Interview, Jay Kiedrowski, Senior Fellow, the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, Jan. 25, 2010
Interview John Pollard, spokesman, Minnesota Management and Budget, Jan 26, 2010
Governor Mark Dayton says he will oppose efforts to repeal the law that requires state permits and background checks for people buying handguns and semiautomatic weapons. Dayton made the comments a day after a Minnesota House committee approved a measure that would eliminate the requirement for people buying guns from federally licensed dealers. Dayton said today the background checks are needed.
"I think it's been proven in the last couple of decades since these laws have been put into effect, state and federal, that it doesn't prevent law abiding citizens from passing those checks as they do and bearing arms. I don't intend to do so but I think eliminating that is unwise."
Supporters say the state requirement is a duplication of federal law and that eliminating it would save local governments money.
Posted at 4:04 PM on January 27, 2011
by Tom Scheck
The Minnesota House is poised to pass a bill today that would cut $1 billion in spending. Most of the cuts target higher education and local government aid. But one fifth of the cuts, $200 million, aren't identified. Instead, the bill says:
"By March 31, 2011, the commissioner of Management and Budget must allocate a reduction of $199,236,000 for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2011, to general fund appropriations made to executive branch agencies as defined in Minnesota Statutes, section 16A.011, subdivision 12a. Reductions in fiscal year appropriations cancel to the general fund. Executive branch agencies must cooperate with the commissioner of management and budget in developing and implementing these reductions."
Supporters of this measure say they're targeting a "Christmas in June" approach that they say state department and agency heads do at the end of every fiscal year. They say departments spend down their budgetary allotments so they don't have to give the money back or potentially find future budget cuts.
But the measure also does something else. It gives budget cutting authority to Gov. Mark Dayton. GOP Rep. Mary Liz Holberg, the chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, who is authoring the bill says she can't remember it ever being done before. Neither can DFL Rep. Lynn Carlson, the House DFL budget lead who has been in the Legislature for 39 years.
GOP House Speaker Kurt Zellers said he preferred to look at the measure a different way.
"We're going to help you (to Gov. Dayton)," Zellers said. "You decide where you want to do it. We'll just set the number for you."
The move comes less than two years after the DFL controlled House signed on to a lawsuit that challenged then Gov. Tim Pawlenty's unilateral budget cuts. The Minnesota Supreme Court agreed that Gov. Pawlenty's so-called unallotments went too far.
Now, Republicans in both the House and Senate are willingly giving up control regarding their power of the purse to Gov. Dayton (Note: The bill does forbid Dayton from cutting K12 funds and special education or further reduce funding for MnSCU and the University of Minnesota).
Update: A staffer with the Minnesota House sent along a note saying the House passed a law in 2010 that required MMB's Commissioner to cut $3 million from state government by 2011.
Three DFL senators have sent a letter to Senate president Michelle Fischbach, asking the Senate Rules Subcommittee on Ethical Conduct to investigate Republican Scott Newman, of Hutchinson.
They allege he rebuffed a meeting request -- via his legislative aide -- from the Minnesota Nurses Association, citing what his office believed to be support for his opponent in the November election.
Newman earlier this week apologized, called it was a misunderstanding and said that politics don't decide his meeting schedule.
But Sandy Pappas, Scott Dibble and Kenneth Kelash want a formal investigation.
"Let's see," said Pappas in an interview. "Let's let the ethics committee do a thorough investigation and see if anyone else comes forward, to bring them in under oath and talk about if this was office procedure. Are there other people doing this? Is he alone? Is he not giving his brand new (legislative assistant) proper instructions? Let's find out."
The state Republican party called the complaint politically motivated and frivilous. Newman wasn't available to respond to the letter this afternoon. Here it is.
The Minnesota House took its first step in addressing Minnesota's massive budget deficit. The House voted 68-63 this evening for a bill that cuts $1 billion in state funding. The major cuts are to aid to cities and counties and higher education. The bill also would require the governor to cut $200 million out of the budget for the curent fiscal year.
Republican House Speaker Kurt Zellers says the bill is a good first step in erasing a projected $6.2 billion budget deficit and he thinks Governor Dayton should sign it.
"We're trying to help him out here a little bit," Zellers said. "This is some money that he can take off of the bottom line. We can put this in the forecast. Come the end of November, excuse me, February when we get that forecast it will look a little less worse you could say."
Four Republicans, all in their first term, joined every Democrat in opposing the bill. Rep. King Banaian of St. Cloud, Rep. Deb Kiel of Crookston, Rep. John Kriesel of Cottage Grove and Rep. Rich Murray of Albert Lea voted against the bill. They didn't respond to e-mail requests to explain why they bucked their party and voted against the bill. (Update: See below for responses by Banaian, Kriesel and Murray). Banaian and Murray were in close elections that required automatic recounts.
Gov. Dayton is asking Republicans who control the House and Senate to hold off on sending him the bill. Instead, he says he wants a big picture approach to the $6.2 billion budget deficit.
"$1 billion in only a sixth of what's necessary and it leaves out some other very difficult decisions," Dayton said. "I think they need to make those decisions in their totality."
Dayton will release his budget plan on February 15th. GOP Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch says she hopes to pass their version of the bill next week.
House and Senate negotiators hope to reconcile any differences on the bill and send it to the governor before that.
Here's Kriesel's response:
"I fully understand that our deficit and spending are both out of control and require serious attention. Difficult choices must be made. HF130 had some good common sense ideas in addressing the spending problem that Minnesota has, but it fell short for me. It didn't fall short because it failed to cut enough, but rather it fell short because it was too vague and did not include many items that I support and feel would get us closer to a balanced budget."
Murray, who switched his yes vote to a no vote at the last minute, called me back and said he voted against the bill because he didn't think it was fair to Albert Lea and surrounding communities. He noted that Albert Lea's Mayor, the city council and the Albert Lea Chamber all spoke out against the bill. He said he needs to have a conversation with Albert Lea officials about the future of LGA in tough budget times.
Banaian sent me this e-mail outlining his vote:
I voted against the bill because the budget cuts reflected priorities from a previous legislature and governor, not reflecting the considered opinion of newly elected officials. Those priorities imposed a heavier burden on my district than many others, including cuts to higher education and their impact on MnSCU. Not only was the cut to higher education double our share of the budget but it was also disproportionately towards MnSCU due to unwinding of spending required by ARRA dollars. I continue to work towards a solution to wisely spend the $32 billion we will receive in the next biennium that reflects new priorities.
Zellers says he hopes to send the bill to Dayton before February 10th.