Posted at 6:39 AM on March 3, 2011
by Tom Scheck
Filed under: Daily Digest
Minnesota's jobless rate dropped to 6.7% in January.
MPR says Gov. Dayton and GOP lawmakers are making little headway in their promise to create new jobs.
The Star Tribune takes a look at the permitting bill and whether companies would be able to draft their own environmental rules under the law. Dayton has until midnight tonight to sign the bill.
The House and Senate are expected to take up a bill that expands alternative teacher licensure. Here's how it would work in Minnesota.
Here's a look at the pluses and minuses of going to All Day Kindergarten, a proposal by Gov. Dayton.
State funding cuts aren't the only reason for college tuition hikes.
Three Beltrami District Court judges write an op-ed saying the state's justice system is underfunded.
Minnesota's Catholic Bishops say the wealthy should pay more.
Gov. Dayton named his Met Council appointments.
GOP state Sen. John Carlson says he didn't do his "homework very well" by authoring a bill that would cut pay equity for women. He's yanking the bill.
The PoliGraph says a claim made by AFSCME's Eliot Seide holds up.
The president of the Vikings met with state lawmakers.
Lawmakers are considering a bill that would require all Internet retailers to pay sales taxes in Minnesota.
A DFL lawmaker uses Tim Pawlenty's own words (in video form) to defend a bill that would keep the state's renewable energy standard in place. Republicans want to remove it.
DFL state Sen. Chuck Wiger has been appointed to the Education Commission on the States.
The federal government avoids a shutdown, for now.
President Obama would accelerate the sale of unneeded federal real estate.
The Supreme Court ruled that the First Amendment protects military funeral protesters.
MPR takes a look at where Minnesota's Congressional delegation stands on Wisconsin and public employee unions.
DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Patty Wetterling want to use IRS data to find missing children.
DFL Sen. Al Franken hired former DFL state Rep. Al Juhnke to handle Agriculture, Energy, Environmental Outreach in Minnesota.
GOP Rep. Erik Paulsen unveils an Iphone App.
New York Republican Congressman Peter King will hold hearings on Muslim extremism on March 10th. DFL Rep. Keith Ellison, who has criticized the hearing, is scheduled to testify.
GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann targets light bulbs.
2012 Race for President
CNN reports Pawlenty will form an exploratory committee in two to three weeks.
Tim Pawlenty is headed to South Carolina on March 16th.
A new Wall St. Journal/NBC News poll shows Mike Huckabee leading other 2012 contenders. The Fix says Pawlenty is happy that his number jumped from 3 percent to 8 percent when those polled are asked about their second choice. Note: GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann wasn't included in the poll.
President Obama leads both Romney and Pawlenty by a wide margin in the poll.
DFL Rep. Tim Walz is one of 15 Democrats facing especially tough re-election campaigns in 2012, confirmed Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokeswoman Haley Morris.
Walz was placed on the party committee's Frontline list, which also includes Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-AZ, who is still recovering from an assassination attempt in January.
Members on the Frontline list will get help with fundraising and organizational support.
Walz won reelection last fall with 49.4 percent of the vote against Republican Randy Demmer, who drew 44.1 percent. But Republicans see a potential pick-up opportunity in Walz's 1st Congressional District due to the upcoming re-districting process.
In the last election cycle, the DCCC had 40 Democratic House members on its so-called endangered list. After taking heavy losses in that election, Democrats have fewer seats in close districts to defend.
GOP Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch has withdrawn her complaint against a lobbyist that she believed worked to "falsify information to members of the Legislature."
Koch wrote a letter to the Minnesota Government Relations Council saying she was withdrawing her complaint against J.D. Burton because he apologized to Koch and Redwood Falls Mayor Gary Revier for his actions. Burton is a lobbyist for Flaherty and Hood who lobbies on behalf of cities across the state.
Update to clarify: Burton told MPR News when the complaint was filed that that he used a poor choice of words in his e-mail. He apologized to Koch and Revier for using wording that was ambiguous and may have been interpreted in a way that he didn't intend. He said he used a poor choice of words when he instructed mayors to not disclose that they not tell lawmakers that they crafted their budgets assuming that reduced LGA payments would occur.
Here's Koch's letter to the MGRC
Posted at 11:19 AM on March 3, 2011
by Tim Nelson
A study released this morning by the Economic Policy Institute says public employees earn 8 percent less than their private sector counterparts, when controlling for education, experience, organizational size, gender, race, ethnicity, citizenship, disability and hours worked annually.
That's a lot of caveats, but the EPI says it based its research on data collected by the U.S. Census.
It's hard to tease out a conclusion, because the report paints a very different picture of the private and public workforces. EPI says government employees are almost half again as likely to have a college degree, they work fewer hours, and they get more of their compensation as "non wage" benefits like health care, retirement, and paid time off.
The report is the latest in a series of studies by the EPI, which has done similar studies in Ohio, New Jersey, Missouri, Indiana and Wisconsin. (The Wisconsin number, by the way, pegs the public workforce as getting about 5 percent less than private sector workers.)
The EPI says its research focuses on "the economic condition of low- and middle-income Americans and their families."
It isn't overtly poiltical, but its board includes representatives of the Communication Workers of America, the United Steelworkers, the United Autoworkers, Service Employees International Union, and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. That's the union that represents 1.6 million public sector workers across the country.
You can read the report here.
Republicans in the Minnesota House and Senate are trying to highlight disapproval of Gov. Mark Dayton's budget proposal by voting today on his tax plan.
The GOP opposes Dayton's proposal to increase income taxes on top earners with a new fourth tier of 10.95 percent. Sen. Geoff, Michel, R-Edina, offered an amendment to a tax conformity bill to put the DFL governor's plan to a vote.
"I believe there will be bipartisan opposition to the governor's tax plan," Michel said. "I think it's important to get it on record today."
Dayton described the action as "juvenile political theater." He sent a letter to Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, urging him and other Legislators to vote against the amendment "as a way to reject this charade."
"My tax and budget bills have not yet been finalized or sent to you, because I am waiting for the Department of Revenue and Management and Budget to complete their analyses of the new budget forecast," Dayton wrote. "The amendment being offered today masquerades as my bill for the sole purpose of political game playing."
The Senate rejected the amendment, with 63 members voting no. The only yes vote was Sen. David Tomassoni, DFL-Chisholm.
The House vote was unanimous, with 131 no votes.
Governor Mark Dayton is accusing Republicans of political game playing after they put his tax plan up for a vote today in the Minnesota Senate and the Minnesota House.
Republicans said they knew there was bipartisan opposition to Dayton's plan to increase income taxes on top earners, and they wanted to get that opposition on record. Dayton sent a letter to DFLers prior to the vote urging them to reject the GOP amendment to end what he termed a "charade." Dayton later told reporters that Republicans were wasting their time.
"We've had a responsible relationship up until now, a respectful relationship," Dayton said. "But I'm starting to feel like back when I was teaching 9th graders. Recess is over. Time to stop playing games. Time to get to work."
Republicans argue that Dayton's plan would hurt small business owners, and slow the state's economic recovery.
Update: The House unanimously rejected the proposal 131-0.
Governor Mark Dayton signed legislation today to streamline the environmental review and permitting process for businesses in Minnesota.
Dayton issued an executive order in January directing the DNR and MPCA to begin speeding up the permitting process. Republicans included many of the same goals in their bill, including a requirement that state agencies issue or deny all all environmental permits within 150 days of submission. In a letter to the bill's chief authors, Dayton wrote that he shares their desire to help businesses locate or expand in Minnesota. He added that too many such projects have been unnecessarily delayed in recent years.
House Speaker Kurt Zellers praised the governor for signing the bill, which he said will provide businesses more certainty.
Conservation groups opposed a provision in the bill that allows developers to hire their own consultants to prepare an environmental impact statement.
GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann will appear on NBC's Meet the Press this weekend. The 6th District Congresswoman will make an appearance on the show to discuss the federal budget debate and the 2012 field. Bachmann is considering a run for the White House in 2012:
Also Sunday: A Republican response from the head of the Tea Party caucus in the House, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN). She's traveled the country speaking to the Tea Party faithful, what does she expect now from her fellow Republicans and Speaker Boehner in the budget battle? Plus, we'll get her take on the beginning stages of the 2012 field. How does she think the campaign against President Obama's re-election should be framed?
White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley will also appear on the show.
DFL Sen. Tom Bakk said today that Governor Dayton told him that Dayton was planning on revising who could be impacted on his income tax increase. Bakk, the DFL Senate Minority Leader, says Dayton told him he wanted to change his tax plan so fewer single filers would be taxed under his income tax hike. Dayton is proposing to increase income taxes on single filers who have an annual after tax income of $85,000 or more.
"He did indicate that he was going to do more on the income tax," Bakk said. "He is not going to raise any more taxes than he absolutely has to to balance the budget."
Dayton's spokeswoman said it's premature to talk specifics on what could change in Dayton's budget plan. She said Dayton is waiting for the analysis from the Department of Revenue on the repricing of his tax plan.
This wouldn't be the first time Dayton revises his budget plan. He dropped his income tax surcharge on those making more than $500,000 a year after the state's projected budget deficit was lowered from $6.2 billion to $5.03 billion.
GOP House Speaker Kurt Zellers said he doesn't take his marching orders from MNGOP Party Chair Tony Sutton. Zellers made his comments after he was asked about a letter Sutton wrote to GOP lawmakers reminding them that the state doesn't need any new revenue. Zellers said he communicates regularly with Sutton but that doesn't mean he follows every recommendation.
"Chairman Sutton can send us all kinds of letters recommending all kinds of great things," Zellers said. "It doesn't mean that I have to do exactly what Chairman Sutton says. I got a pretty big independent streak in my German heritage."
As for new revenue, Sutton and GOP Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch said they oppose new tax increases. They were careful, however, to stay away from ruling out other revenue options like fees and gambling.
Zellers and Koch said their top priority is putting forward a balanced budget that erases a $5 billion projected budget deficit through spending cuts. He said discussions about other revenue may come after that.
"We got $33 billion in the checkbook. That's what we're going to spend, Zellers said. "If the governor has some ideas that aren't introduced yet that doesn't include a job killing tax increase, we're going to be more than willing to talk about that later on. Our first job now is to introduce a budget which is focused on where are you spending the money, what are you spending it on and what are the citizens of the state getting for value."
House and Senate Republicans will introduce their targets for each budget division next week. Expect the respective chairs to release their budget bills the following week.