Posted at 6:31 AM on March 21, 2011
by Tom Scheck
Filed under: Daily Digest
This is the week when we'll get the specifics on how Republicans intend to erase a $5 billion projected budget deficit without raising taxes. That's because committee chairs in the House and Senate have to release and pass their budget bills out of committee before Friday.
The House HHS Chair will hold a news conference this morning to outline the $1.8 billon in cuts in his bill. (You can read the full schedule of bill releases here).
Gov. Dayton will sign the federal tax conformity bill this afternoon.
House Republicans will also hold a House K12 Finance hearing this morning on a sweeping K12 finance bill. The bill would dramatically alter the how the state's schools are funded, change teacher seniority rules and would allow public money to be spent for low-income students to attend private schools.
Forum Communications says Republicans are moving forward with their budget plans even though they don't think Gov. Dayton will sign the bills.
Dayton told the state's teacher's union that he would protect their bargaining rights.
Environmental groups are also criticizing GOP efforts to change LCCMR money is being used to fund projects that should be spent with general fund money.
Budget experts say tax hikes are slightly better for the economy than budget cuts.
Gov. Dayton wrote an op-ed in the Pi Press on Sunday. He says now is the time for tax fairness.
MPR takes a look at whether property taxes will increase if LGA funding is held harmless. The answer is probably but not as much as the tax would rise if LGA was cut.
The Pi Press takes a look at how much surplus cash the state's HMOs need.
The Star Tribune says some people are giving money (above their taxes) to the state to help the needy or pay down the deficit.
Dayton backs GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann on the new Stillwater Bridge.
The Pi Press profiles Public Safety Commissioner Mona Dohman.
A Racino bill will be introduced this week. Supporters hold a news conference on the bill today. Running Aces, the track in the North Metro, says it won't support the plan.
The Star Tribune says stadium opponents are on hold for now.
The U.S. and several European countries took military action against Libya over the weekend.
President Obama is on a trade mission to South America. He said Brazil's democracy is an example for the Middle East.
USA Today says states are rushing to pay Medicaid bills.
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner will decide on the regulation of foreign-exchange swaps.
Several members of the delegation, including DFL Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken and DFL Rep. Collin Peterson, met last week to discuss the flood retention plan for the Red River Valley.
Klobuchar wants the Federal Trade Commission to investigate anticompetitive behavior for a drug prevents preterm labor in pregnant women.
DFL Rep. Tim Walz is backing a bill that would ban insider trading on Capitol Hill.
GOP Rep. John Kline holds an Education Hearing in Wilkes Barre, PA today.
DFL Rep. Betty McCollum visited a levee in Newport as the city prepares for potential flooding.
GOP Rep. Erik Paulsen and DFL Rep. Keith Ellison hold separate meetings this week on the federal health care law.
Ellison spoke at an event hosted by the Islamic Association of Greater Detroit.
DFL Rep. Collin Peterson will talk farm issues in Ada today.
Race for Congress
Wisconsin Republican Rep. Paul Ryan is running an ad thanking GOP Rep. Chip Cravaack.
Republican Lee Byberg says he's running for Congress again.
Race for President
GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann says she'll hold a video townhall in Iowa on Thursday.
The Star Tribune takes a look at "Brand Bachmann."
Tim Pawlenty says he doesn't want to slash defense spending.
Pawlenty was in Illinois over the weekend.
Pawlenty breaks out the bucks for a person who claimed to need bus fare.
Sarah Palin visited Israel.
Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty is taking the next step toward a White House bid today with the formation of a presidential campaign exploratory committee.
A person with knowledge of Pawlenty's plans said to expect an announcement this afternoon on Facebook. Pawlenty's page says the announcement will come at 2 p.m. Minnesota time. Such a committee would allow Pawlenty to begin raising money for a presidential campaign.
For more than a year Pawlenty has been traveling the nation criticizing President Barack Obama and other Democratic leaders and sounding like a candidate for president. His most recent trips came last week to South Carolina and New Hampshire.
Pawlenty's Freedom First political action committee has been bankrolling much of that travel and has already assembled an experienced campaign team.
One of Sen. John McCain's top fundraising experts from his 2008 presidential run, Brian Haley, serves as the finance director for the PAC.
Senior advisors to Pawlenty include Terry Nelson, formerly the Bush-Cheney '04 political director, and director of political operations at the Republican National Committee.
Other top-level advisors are Phil Musser and Sarah Taylor. Musser was one of Mitt Romney's senior advisors during the last cycle. Taylor worked on the Bush campaign and served as Bush's White House Political Director.
Potential candidates can spend lots of money on exploratory operations such as polling, travel and focus groups. Potential candidates are not required to register exploratory committees with the Federal Election Commission but many do to make for a smoother transition to full-fledged campaigns.
Pawlenty, a Republican, was first elected governor of Minnesota in 2002 and re-elected in 2006. The signature issue of his time as governor was his "no new taxes" pledge, although he did agree to impose a statewide fee on cigarettes. His political opponents also said his policies caused property taxes and other fees to rise dramatically during his tenure.
He was on the short list of McCain's potential running mates in 2008, but was left out when McCain chose Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin instead. It's unclear whether Palin will run for president in 2012.
The House Jobs and Economic Development budget bill was released this morning. It uses a variety of one-time funds to help balance the budget, including $60 million from the Doug Johnson Fund, which Iron Range Resources uses for economic development on the Iron Range. It also takes $13 million from the Unemployment Insurance contingency account.
The bill also cuts funding to the Minnesota Trade Office, the job skills partnership program, an extended employment program and youth workforce grants. It also cuts funding for prevailing wage enforcement and apprenticeship programs.
You can read the spreadsheet here.
You can read the bill here.
Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty put this video on his Facebook page at about 2 p.m. Monday.
In the video, Pawlenty announces the formation of a presidential exploratory committee. The committee will allow Pawlenty to begin raising money for a presidential campaign.
The announcement wasn't much of a surprise and people have been reacting to it all day.
University of Virginia political science professor Larry Sabato said he thinks Pawlenty's decision to launch an exploratory committee was a good one because it helps him get out in front of the pack of likely 2012 presidential candidates .
"For the time being, Pawlenty, who started as the longest of long-shots in the top-tier, is now, I think, reasonably ranked next to Mitt Romney," said Sabato. "Romney is the proto-favorite. But he's not a heavy favorite. Pawlenty has made a lot of progress, and I think people see him as making a real bid for the nomination."
Sabato said Pawlenty hasn't necessarily distinguished himself from other likely GOP presidential hopefuls on policy. But Sabato said with little or no name recognition Pawlenty has climbed to the top-tier of possible Republican presidential candidates. And now that Pawlenty has launched a campaign Sabato said reporters will look to him to respond to Obama administration decisions about everything from the economy to national security.
"My guess is Pawlenty will be a go-to guy for the national media if only because he's been willing to jump into the cool-pool first," Sabato said.
Washington University political science professor Steven Smith, said in addition to political reasons, there are practical reasons to form an exploratory committee.
Pawlenty has used his Freedom First political action committee to finance much of his national travel thus far. But his political action committee, like any PAC, can only donate $5,000 to his likely future presidential campaign.
Every penny Pawlenty's new exploratory committee could eventually end up helping him raise money for an actual campaign.
"Once you formally create an exploratory committee you're signaling your donors that you're going to start raising money in a big way with the hope of using that money toward a formal campaign," Smith said. "Once you file as a candidate all your contributions, even though they were made in the past are subject to the federal limits. So doing this now is really a matter of legal convenience."
Pawlenty reportedly urged supporters to hold off writing checks to his new campaign committee until April 1. That's the beginning of the second quarter Federal Election Commission reporting period. When those second quarter numbers are made public in July, Larry Sabato from the University of Virginia said the amount he has collected could be critical to Pawlenty's presidential prospects.
"I don't know what he'll post, but I can guarantee you everyone will look at that number," Sabato said. "We're looking at a campaign where the incumbent president is going to spend $1 billion. Now how does a Republican creditably challenge a president like that if in the early going say only a few hundred thousands or a couple of millions can be raised? I think you have to look long-term and ask, can a candidate compete with a president who's going to spend $1 billion?"
State DFL Party Chair Ken Martin just issued a statement saying Pawlenty ignored his job as governor over the past two years to pursue his national ambitions. He said there's nothing in Pawlenty's record to show he deserves a promotion.
"Unfortunately for the people of Minnesota, while Gov. Pawlenty was out exploring states near and far, he failed those he was supposed to represent," Martin said. "Tim Pawlenty left our state facing the largest deficit in Minnesota's 152-year history, drove up property taxes and fees on middle-class families and small businesses alike, all while making draconian cuts to education that forced some schools into 4-day weeks."