Posted at 6:24 AM on February 10, 2011
by Tom Scheck
Filed under: Daily Digest
The Minnesota Senate will vote today on a conference committee report that cuts $900 million in state spending. The move comes one day after the House passed the conference committee report.
The House and Senate action sets up a showdown with Gov. Dayton, who has opposed the action.
Dayton will be on MPR's Midmorning at 9AM.
The Senate will also take up a bill that would freeze salaries for public school employees.
The House will take up a bill allowing for alternative teacher licensure and another bill streamlining environmental permitting.
On Wednesday, Gov. Mark Dayton calls on Minnesota to "invest to progress" during his State of the State address.
Dayton criticized Tim Pawlenty for leaving him a "horrendous fiscal mess."
Dayton also aims to expand the streamlining that Gov. Pawlenty touted.
The PoliGraph says Dayton's tuition claims can be read two ways.
GOP Rep. Jim Abeler, who was criticized for calling a hearing to discuss a possible shutdown, says he hopes the hearing makes everyone think about the impact of a shutdown on the state.
A House panel approves a measure that would lift the ban on new nuclear power plant construction. The next stop for the bill is the House floor.
Gov. Dayton and DFL Sen. Al Franken will hold flood meetings in Moorhead this weekend.
Dayton's point man on the Vikings Stadium wants an umbrella agency to oversee the "stadium glut" in Minnesota.
The Vikings say the state should use lottery money to help pay for a new stadium.
DFL Sen. Tom Bakk also says the business community isn't stepping up to back a new Vikings stadium.
College officials don't like a bill to freeze tuition.
Minnesota colleges are also likely to tap reserve funds to cover the cost of looming cuts.
MPR's lawsuit over light rail appears headed to trial this fall.
New York Congressman Chris Lee, a Republican, abruptly resigns after trying to pick up women on Craigslist.
Virginia Sen. Jim Webb, a Democrat, announces he won't run for another term.
Democrats are arguing Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas should recuse himself from any health rulings because his wife financially benefitted from efforts to repeal the law.
Republicans in the House are trying to deal with being in the majority. House leadership is proposing deeper spending cuts after mini-revolts over the past two days.
Republicans say Democrats, like DFL Rep. Tim Walz,are the reason they couldn't pass a bill extending the Patriot Act.
President Obama had lunch with House leadership.
The White House plans to cut energy assistance for the poor.
GOP Rep. John Kline warns that Pakistan could lose aid dollars over a detained U.S. diplomat.
The candidates in House District 5B met in a forum.
Pawlenty for Prez Watch
CPAC starts today. Pawlenty is holding a reception tonight. Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee won't attend the event.
Tim Pawlenty draws fire over his comments regarding Don't Ask, Don't Tell.
Pawlenty is headed back to New Hampshire in March.
Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels says he would have the cash and the support to win.
Bachmann for Prez Watch
Former MNGOP Chair Ron Carey, who served as GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann's Chief of Staff, told the AP that Bachmann isn't electable and isn't ready to be president.
Bachmann will be the first speaker at CPAC.
Bachmann's office tells John DiStaso that she has no plans to visit New Hampshire.
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On MPR's Midmorning, Governor Dayton said "that might be part of it" when asked if he would consider proposing an income tax hike that lasts only two years
Dayton suggested during his State of the State speech that such a tax would be included when he asked business leaders to "give him two years."
MPR Midmorning host Kerri Miller asked if he had a timeline to such a tax. He referred to his statement during the State of the State.
"Well, I hope to do it sooner," Dayton said of a possible sunset to the income tax. "And if the conditions improve, if there were something like that, then we'll be able to deal with that starting next year. I hope we can get a rapid improvement but I'm trying to be realistic here."
Dayton didn't fully commit to an income tax hike that would blink off but he suggested it's a possibility. Dayton said his plan will increase income taxes on top earners but he declined to offer greater specifics. He releases his full budget plan next Tuesday.
MPR's new Washington correspondent Brett Neely started this week. This is his first post on Capitol View:
Listen to Bachmann's speech here: Listen
Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., served up a breakfast of conservative raw meat in the opening address before the 38th Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C. this morning.
Saying that she starts every day with a vow to overturn President Obama's healthcare overhaul, Bachmann roused the sleepy audience to their feet multiple times at the annual gathering of conservative activists.
"We need to win the triple crown of 2012, holding onto the House of Representatives, winning the Senate and, oh yeah baby, winning the White House as well," Bachmann told a cheering crowd of several thousand people.
The Republican congresswoman said the nation's 9 percent unemployment rate would only be brought down by the enactment of conservative policy positions such as a dramatic reduction of federal spending, lower taxes, the repeal of last year's healthcare law and the elimination of regulations on energy production - which she said would turn the United States into the "Saudi Arabia of energy production."
Bachmann, who hasn't ruled out a presidential run next year, gave a shout out to the key primary state of New Hampshire, saying that Americans should heed the Granite State's motto, "Live Free or Die."
The crowds in the Wardman Marriott's massive ballroom began to thin once Bachmann left the stage. She was followed by fellow Midwesterner freshman Sen. Ron Johnson , R-WI, who joined Bachmann in denouncing the President's healthcare plan.
Outside of the ballroom, at least one conference attendee was impressed with Bachmann's speech (Listen here: Listen)
"I thought she did a pretty good job," said Steve Emmert of Chantilly, Virginia. "She got people to wake up and got them charged up."
Emmert, who works on federal policy issues for a Virginia-based company, said he'd like to hear more from Bachmann, adding that, "I think she is viable, perhaps more viable than many other potential [presidential] candidates [in 2012]."
Bachmann's relative newness to the political scene was an advantage, said Emmert, because many of the other candidates were tainted by past positions and from being inside Washington's culture for too long.
As for fellow Minnesotan, former Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Emmert said, "All I can tell you is that he was governor of Minnesota."
Emmert said Pawlenty needed to raise his national exposure, a chance the former governor will get tomorrow when it's his turn to address CPAC.
Later today, attention will shift back to Bachmann, who's hosting an open bar event for all 11,000 CPAC attendees so they can "party hardy."
But lest anyone think the fiscal conservative had gone overboard, Bachmann joked her offer meant a one-drink limit, especially for the throngs of college students in the crowd.
Minnesota's economy was the theme of Gov. Mark Dayton's first State of the State speech delivered Wednesday.
To help make his point, Dayton said that fewer people are working today than were working eight years ago.
"Last December, there were over 77,000 more Minnesotans unemployed than in December 2002, just before Gov. Pawlenty took office," he said on Feb. 9, 2011. "There were 5,881 fewer people working in Minnesota than there were eight years ago, even though our state's population grew during that time by over 286,000 people."
Dayton's numbers are right, but they deserve some context.
In Dec. 2002, roughly 128,000 people were unemployed. Now, that number stands at approximately 206,000 unemployed - a difference of about 78,000, as Dayton estimated. Further, it's correct that 5,881 fewer people working in Minnesota these days, according to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. Dayton's also in the ballpark on population growth.
But while Dayton's numbers are right, it's important to consider them in context. The national recession had a sizeable impact on Minnesota, including significant job losses between 2008 and 2009; the peak came in May of 2009, when more than 250,000 people were out of a job. In fact, before the middle of 2008, it was unusual for more than 140,000 people to be jobless.
So, Dayton's figures may be rosier had there been no recession.
With some context, Dayton's good on his numbers.
The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, Minnesota Unemployment Statistics, Dec. 2002 - Dec. 2010, accessed Feb. 9, 2011
The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, Minnesota Population Estimates, 1998-2009, accessed Feb. 9, 2011
The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, The Recession Hits Home, by Dave Snef, June 2009
The Minnesota Geospatial Information Office, Minnesota Population Estimate, accessed Feb. 9, 2010
Interview, Jeremy Drucker, spokesman, Gov. Mark Dayton, Feb. 9, 2010
The Humphrey School
The Republican-controlled Legislature has sent a $900 million package of spending cuts to Governor Dayton, who has repeatedly criticized the bill as "piecemeal" budgeting.
The Minnesota Senate passed the bill on a party line vote today 37-28. The House passed the same measure Wednesday.
The bill cuts spending on state aid to cities and counties, colleges and universities and social services programs. It also directs the Dayton administration to eliminate $100 million from current state agency budgets.
Republican Senator Julianne Ortman of Chanhassen said the bill is a reality check, and the first piece of a solution for a $6.2 billion state budget deficit.
"The reason to do it now is so that our budget deficit is reflected in our forecast, which comes out later this month," Ortman said. "We can reduce it by almost $1 billion. I hope the executive branch will accept the reality check and accept this bill."
Supporters say early action on a partial budget fix will influence the next state economic forecast and shrink the projected $6.2 billion budget deficit. But Senate Minority leader Tom Bakk said Republicans were poking the governor in the eye, by sending him a bill he doesn't like and had no say in.
"If we're going to get bills signed into law, the Legislature has to involve the executive branch," Bakk said. "We can't get anything into law without them. If we're not going to involve them, then it's just all theatrics, and we're all just playing politics and we're all just grandstanding. Exactly what the public doesn't like."
Bakk and other Democrats also say the bill will drive up local property taxes and college tuition. They also said the cuts were assembled with little public input.
Governor Dayton had repeatedly criticized the GOP bill as "piecemeal" budgeting but has refused to say whether he'll veto the measure. Dayton will release his budget plan on Tuesday.
It took Gov. Dayton less than two hours to veto a bill that cuts $900 million in state spending. The Minnesota Senate passed the bill earlier today on a party line vote and sent it to Dayton. The measure cuts funding for higher education, health and human services programs and aid to cities and counties. Republicans have argued that cuts were a good start in fixing the state's budget.
In his veto letter, Dayton wrote that the cuts in local government aid would force local governments to raise
income property taxes and that their plan is unconstitutional because it doesn't specify where the governor should cut $100 million in spending. Dayton also complained Republicans in control of the House and Senate should address the state's $6.2 billion projected budget deficit in totality instead of taking a piece meal approach.
Dayton will release his budget plan next week. He said he'll increase income taxes on Minnesota's top earners to solve part of the deficit. Republicans oppose a tax increase of any kind.
Here's Dayton's veto letter:
Gov. Dayton has hired the person who managed the finances for his gubernatorial campaign to head the Minnesota Trade Office. Some Republicans are raising questions about the hire because Dayton repeatedly called for eliminating the office when he was campaigning for governor. Dayton appointed Katie Clark, who worked for Target Corporation and National Wind, to run the agency. She was his campaign finance director last year.
GOP House Speaker Kurt Zellers said he didn't want to question Clark's credentials but did ask whether Dayton should have hired someone who played such a big role in his campaign.
"If it makes you kind of cringe when you talk about it, that's maybe a pretty good standard that it's not something to do," Zellers said. "It's just the process that makes you uncomfortable."
It isn't unusual for elected officials to hire their campaign staff when they take office. Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty hired several people who either worked for him or backed his campaign. He also hired many of his GOP colleagues from the Minnesota House. But the importance the economy, and trade in general, are playing in politics right now highlights the importance of the position.
In an interview with MPR News, Dayton defended the hire. He said he had deep concerns over how the Minnesota Trade Office has languished over the past 10 years. He said Clark will improve how the office is run.
"She was a team leader at Target Corporation, and she's going to provide the kind of professional, private sector initiative on behalf of the Trade Office that has been lacking. I was critical of the Trade Office based on my two terms as Economic Development Commissioner."
Dayton, who has said he thinks increased trade is one of the keys to improving the state's economy, added that he was even more concerned about how the office was run when he met with a Chinese delegation that recently visited Minnesota. He said he's instructing the commissioners of the Department of Employment and Economic Development and the Department of Agriculture to work with Clark to improve the agency.
As for his earlier call to close the Trade Office, Dayton says it's not his top priority right now.
"I'm right now focused on larger matters before the state, but that may well be part of a reorganization of state government proposal that I'll submit to the Legislature."
Sen. Geoff Michel, R-Edina, who chairs the Senate Jobs and Economic Growth Committee, said he's not prepared to comment on Clark's qualifications but he said he'll be watching very closely to see how Dayton handles the office.
"I don't think it's clear where candidate Dayton and now Gov. Dayton wants to go with the Trade Office. I think it's an important matter," Michel said. "I think who staffs a Trade Office and even if there should be a Trade Office is an important matter for us to consider."
Michel says he intends to keep tabs on how Dayton handles the future of the Trade Office. But he'll have little say regarding Dayton's decision to hire Clark since she does not have to be confirmed.
Clark's salary is $90,828.