Minnesota's state budget deficit leads the Digest.
Gov. Dayton is trying to warn groups that there could be "painful cuts" to programs when he releases his budget on February 15th.
Dayton told reporters that he would not include gambling in his budget proposal.
Dayton will speak to the TwinWest Chamber of Commerce on 2/11.
State finance officials insist the state can afford a $1 billion bonding bill. MPR takes a look at whether Minnesota can handle the debt service.
The viability of the Metrodome is in question as plans for a new stadium start moving at the State Capitol.
Dayton met with Bemidji leaders on Tuesday. He meets with Rochester officials today.
The chairs of the House and Senate Transportation Committees urged Minnesota's Congressional delegation to oppose earmarks.
The IRRB appointments are now complete.
A $150 million renovation for the Target Center has been released.
2010 Race for Governor
The latest campaign finance reports show outside groups are rising in influence.
The Alliance for a Better Minnesota spent the most on the race for governor.
The Republican Party of Minnesota won't disclose how much money it raised and spent on the 2010 recount.
Gov. Dayton, who spent nearly $4 million of his own money on the race, says he wants quicker disclosure.
Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak says he won't seek a new term but protesters continue their call for him to go.
President Obama says the transition of power in Egypt "must begin now."
The Dow closed above 12,000 for the first in two and a half years.
DFL Rep. Betty McCollum will hold a town hall meeting on Saturday.
GOP Rep. Chip Cravaack toured the 148th Fighter Wing.
The Duluth News Tribune looks at Cravaack's first month in office.
Carly Melin, of Hibbing, won the DFL Primary to replace DFL Rep. Tony Sertich.
Minneapolis lost its bid for the DNC Convention. Charlotte was picked to be the host city.
Minnesota Republican Party Chair Tony Sutton and Deputy Chair Michael Brodkorb are running for another term.
2012 Race for U.S. Senate
Former GOP Sen. Norm Coleman says he won't challenge DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar.
Pawlenty for Prez Watch
The chair of the New Hampshire Republican Party was forced to say he would stay neutral in the nation's first primary after the party's executive director said he wouldn't vote for Pawlenty.
Bachmann for Prez Watch
MinnPost says GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann fears full body scanners will result in "naked pictures" on internet.
Rep. Paul Marquart, DFL-Dilworth, may not be a household name but he recently spoke about an issue that's making headlines all over Minnesota: the state's projected $6.2 billion deficit.
In debate on the House floor on a Republican-backed proposal to cut $1 billion in state spending, Marquart said this on Jan 27: "Make no doubt about it, this bill creates up to over $300 million of new property tax increases on our senior citizens on fixed incomes, our families, our farmers and our small businesses."
Marquart is on firm ground with his numbers, but local governments will make the final decision on property taxes.
Marquart voted against the Republican-controlled Legislature's first stab at reducing the state's deficit. The legislation would make permanent many of the one-time spending cuts Gov. Tim Pawlenty and the Legislature agreed on last year. Included in those cuts is a $487 million reduction in state aid to local governments and counties.
The Minnesota Department of Revenue estimates that these cuts will result in more than $300 million in new property taxes. To come up with this figure, budget crunchers use a formula that predicts property taxes will increase roughly 66 cents for every dollar the state cuts in aid. The assumption is based on historical data, and is reviewed annually by researchers at the revenue department and the Legislature.
So, Marquart's claim is plausible. But it's important to point out that the Legislature doesn't set property taxes; local governments do.
Further, the budgeting formula is based on an estimate. For example, it would be incorrect to assume that all local governments will increase property taxes. In fact, researchers at the revenue department and in the Legislature say the formula may be on the high end because many local governments have not raised property taxes as a result of the recession.
While it remains to be seen how much property taxes will increase, Marquart has a firm foundation for making his prediction.
His statement ranks an accurate on this PoliGraph test.
Minnesota State Legislature, text of H.F. 130, accessed Feb. 1, 2011
Minnesota State Legislature, Summary H.F. 130, accessed Feb. 1, 2011
Minnesota Department of Revenue, Analysis H.F. 130, Jan. 25, 2011
Minnesota Public Radio, Minn. House passes $1 billion state budget cut, by Tom Scheck, Jan. 28, 2011
Interview, Rep. Paul Marquart, DFL-Dilworth, Jan. 31, 2011
Interview, Pat Dalton, House Research Department, Feb. 1, 2011
Interview, Eric Willette, Property Tax Research Director, Minnesota Department of Revenue, Feb. 1, 2011
The Minnesota Republican Party is questioning the residency of Democrat Carly Melin. Melin won the DFL Primary last night in a special election in House District 5B. The Hibbing native defeated four others to win the primary.
But Republican Party Deputy Chair Michael Brodkorb said in a news release that Melin isn't meeting the residency requirements to be a candidate.
"Is DFL candidate Carly Melin trying to pull a fast one on the voters of House District 5B? While Melin now claims she lives with her parents, state records show she may have a serious residency problem. According to state law, 'Candidates for the legislature must meet legislative residency requirements when elected. This means that at the time of the general election, a candidate for the legislature must have resided in the state for one year and must have resided in the legislative district for six months," the news release said.
House Disrict 5B is a DFL stronghold that includes Chiholm, Hibbing and on the Iron Range. The seat was vacated when Governor Dayton appointed Tony Sertich as head of Iron Range Resources. Melin will face Independence Party candidate Cynthia Kafut-Hagen and Republican candidate Paul Jacobson in the Feb. 15 special election.
For her part, Melin said she voted in the August 10th primary but says "I absolutely meet the residency requirements." She said she was late for a meeting but would call back to offer a more detailed explanation later.
I'll update this post after that conversation occurs.
Melin says she did vote in the August 10th primary. She said she lived in St. Paul over the summer when she was studying for the bar exam. Melin says she was offered her current job as a judicial law clerk for the State Judiciary on the Iron Range on August 9th. She said she moved back to Hibbing on August 11th.
"Republicans don't have any issues to run on," Melin said. "They're not the party that's going to best represent District 5B so they're making attacks on something that's not even an issue. I'm a resident of Hibbing and have been since August 11th."
Posted at 1:57 PM on February 2, 2011
by Tom Scheck
Filed under: Michele Bachmann
The AP is reporting that GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann is in Hawaii today:
HONOLULU (AP) - Tea party Republican U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota is speaking in Honolulu during a luncheon.
Bachmann is appearing Wednesday at the Ala Moana Hotel to discuss the 2011 congressional session.
The lunch, sponsored by the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, is sold out.
Bachmann provided the tea party response to President Barack Obama's state of the union address last week.
Bachmann is the founder of the Tea Party Caucus, which includes fiscally conservative members of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Republicans in Minnesota are working to find a candidate to challenge DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar in 2012. But some of the bigger names aren't willing to get into the race. Former GOP Sen. Norm Coleman announced yesterday that he isn't running for the seat.
Few candidates have made appearances at GOP events. That's typically the first step for people who want to test the waters for a possible run. Only Harold Shudlick, who lost the GOP endorsement to Mark Kennedy in 2006, was seen actively campaigning for the post at last December's MNGOP meeting.
Many higher profile candidates are spending more time telling reporters to take their names off the 2012 list.
"I didn't decide not to run for my House seat, just to immediately find another office to run for," Former GOP state Rep. Laura Brod wrote to me in an e-mail. "I am not a candidate for US senate in 2012."
Former House Minority Leader Marty Seifert, who lost the GOP endorsement for governor in 2010, wrote on Twitter that he's not running either.
"I just got off the phone with Roll Call magazine confirming that I will not be a candidate for the U.S. Senate in 2012 or 2014."
GOP state Sen. Julie Rosen also said she heard her name surface as a possible candidate, but she says she's leaning against it.
"I'm honored with the recommendation but at this point, No, I would not be interested in running against Sen. Klobuchar," Rosen said.
Another legislator, GOP state Sen. David Hann, says he's more focused on the legislative session than a run for the U.S. Senate.
"I'm not ruling out anything but I'm not making any plan at this point because I'm not thinking about anything beyond the state budget and how to get that done."
One person who may be considering a run in 2012 is Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek. Stanek said, "no comment," when asked if he was thinking about running against Klobuchar. Several people close to Stanek tell me, however, that he doesn't want to take anything off the table at this point. They say Stanek is more interested in a run for governor in 2014. (Update: Stanek says he's not interested in running in 2012).
In fact, a lot of Republicans are looking at 2014. That's when DFL Sen. Al Franken is up for reelection. Franken barely won his seat in 2008 and as many political insiders know, his approval ratings are lower than Klobuchar's numbers. Take for example, Ron Schutz. Here's the response I got when I asked the attorney with Robins, Kaplan, Miller and Ciresi if he was interested in running for Senate.
"Which year?" Schutz said jokingly.
Schutz said a 2014 run for U.S. Senate is a better option for him. He says he'll be 59 at that time and may be more willing to take another step in his career.
"I have not said 'No way in hell will I ever do this, but a lot of circumstances would have to change before I put my hat in the ring in 2012."
Another person mentioned as a possible candidate against Klobuchar is Bill Guidera, a lobbyist for News Corp. Guidera could not be reached for a comment.
Minnesota Republican Party Chair Tony Sutton says he's not worried that a candidate hasn't emerged yet. He said he's had private meetings with several potential candidates and has been "very aggressive" in finding a candidate to challenge Klobuchar.
"There are people definitely weighing their options," Sutton said. "It's only February of the off year. We have plenty of time. I think you'll start to see people emerge here and bubble up in the next 60 to 90 days, and it would be a very vigorous contest."
Sutton said he thinks a candidate will still have time to campaign and raise money if he or she announces by the summer. Sutton insisted that Klobuchar is vulnerable. He called her support "a mile wide and an inch deep."
Klobuchar has been keeping relatively quiet on the political front as she waits to see who her potential opponent may be. She downplayed any talk of 2012 and who she may face in that election.
"We just got done with an election two months ago in Minnesota," Klobuchar said. "I think people truly want us to focus on what we need to do. We are just done with one. I'm just focused on the people of the state of Minnesota. I'm going to keep doing that and politics will eventually rear it's head but right now it's time to work for Minnesota."
One wild card in this race is GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann. Bachmann, who appears to be gearing up for a run for the White House, could make a run for the U.S. Senate instead. Bachmann is a solid fundraiser and has high name recognition. One problem for her is that a recent poll shows her well behind Klobuchar.
Vikings vice president and stadium capo Lester Bagley couldn't make it on Kerri Miller's Mid-Morning show about a new NFL stadium in Minnesota this morning. But he did send a tantalizing email. He wrote to producer Ted Canova that the team may chip in more than the 1/3 they've talked about paying for an open-air stadium.
"The Twins added additional funds after the bill was passed," Bagley wrote. "Which is likely to occur in a Vikings scenario as well."
A lot, says the Twins' spokesman Kevin Smith.
He says the team chipped in another $50 million for in-progress upgrades during the construction and got an additional $4.5 from Target for the Target Plaza buildout. He said the Twins threw in another $15 million for buying land, after the court tussle over the stadium site's price. And he says they're tossing in another $4 or $6 million this off season for a new video board, fixes to the outfield and other changes.
All told, he figures its about $200 million of the $545 million the place will cost by opening day this year.
That calculates out to about 36.7 percent of the bill for the final product, including the $90 million in infrastructure costs.
They weren't the only team to do that, of course. The Minnesota Wild, after signing a deal for the Xcel Energy Center that cost them $3.5 million annually in rent for 25 years, pledged $30 million more for post-hockey arena-deal upgrades to the $130 million X in 2000.
The question is: Will the Vikings end point look like the Target Field deal? Or is that the new starting point for negotiations for the team's contributions at the Capitol?