Posted at 6:43 AM on April 12, 2011
by Tom Scheck
Filed under: Daily Digest
A Joint House/Senate conference committee has agreed to an Ag budget. The ten members on the committee unanimously backed the measure. The Ag Commissioner also said he'd recommend Gov. Dayton sign the bill. The two Ag Chairs say they hope the agreement sets the tone for the other budget bills.
Here is a list of all of the budget bill conferees.
GOP legislative leaders predict the session will end on time.
Forum Communications has a good give and take on how budget negotiations could play out over the next few weeks.
GOP House Speaker Kurt Zellers and DFL House Minority Leader Paul Thissen were on Midday yesterday. Listen to the show here.
The Freedom Club hits the airwaves to hit Gov. Dayton's budget plan.
GOP lawmakers are considering an overhaul of the auto industry. The bills get a hearing in a Senate committee today.
Gov. Dayton will hold a round table to discuss higher education on Wednesday.
A hearing hasn't been scheduled yet for the Vikings Stadium bill.
Hennepin County Commissioner Mike Opat says passing a stadium bill this session is a "long shot."
Budget tricks helped President Obama save some programs from cuts.
A federal appeals court won't lift a stay on Arizona's immigration law.
Voters in Falcon Heights and St. Paul head to the polls today to elect a replacement to DFL Sen. Ellen Anderson.
Race for U.S. Senate
The Star Tribune says DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar is taking no chances as she prepares to run for reelection.
Race for President
Mitt Romney announced his exploratory committee.
While in Iowa, Bachmann offered support for a budget plan that cuts $5.8 trillion.
Bachmann also wants to draw a line in the sand over the federal health care law.
She also slammed the budget agreement.
Here are some of Bachmann's quotes from her speech to the Iowa Family Leader.
Here's video of her appearance in Pella. She says she opposes raising the debt ceiling.
In an interview with the Des Moines Register, Bachmann also promised that she won't be thinking of running for a second term if she runs for president. Bachmann also wouldn't comment on Tim Pawlenty.
Texas Congressman Ron Paul was also in Iowa on Monday. He said the federal government is too costly and intrusive.
Tim Pawlenty will headline a Tax Day rally in Boston on April 15th.
Here's more on Pawlenty's hiring of Nick Ayers.
The Atlantic also takes a look at the policy wonks that Pawlenty and Romney hired.
USA Today says GOP hopefuls are quietly lining up endorsements.
State finance officials say the recently passed House and Senate budget bills do not erase a projected $5 billion budget shortfall.
Minnesota Management and Budget Commissioner Jim Schowalter and Revenue Commissioner Myron Frans sent a letter to Republican leaders today expressing "deep concern" about the bills. They said their analysis shows the Republican-backed bills are out of balance by $1.203 billion in the House and $1.164 billion in the Senate.
"It is our hope and expectation that the fiscal discrepancies in the bills will be resolved in conference committee and that the bills sent to the governor will be fiscally sound and balanced," the commissioners wrote.(4 Comments)
Former U.S House Speaker Newt Gingrich and GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann will headline the Minnesota Family Counci's 2011 annual dinner. Both Gingrich and Bachmann say they're considering a run for the White House in 2012 and the appearance at this event shows both are courting social conservatives as the Iowa Caucuses draw closer. The event will be held on May 17th in Minneapolis.
The Minnesota Family Council is known for bringing in high profile guests for the annual dinner. Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty spoke at the event last year. As did Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas and one-time presidential hopeful. Pawlenty has formed an exploratory committee for president nd Huckabee is said to be considering his options in 2012.
The Taxpayers League of Minnesota is taking aim at the Vikings stadium bill introduced this week.
Phil Krinkie, president of the conservative fiscal watchdog group, sent out an email alert today warning about the potential tax increases. Krinkie recipients to contact the authors and co-authors of the bill. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont, and Rep. Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead, is not expected to get a hearing until after the Legislature's traditional Passover/Easter break.
Here's what Krinkie had to say:
Yesterday Republican legislators Sen. Julie Rosen and Rep. Morrie Lanning chief authored legislation that would raise taxes on sports memorabilia, liquor, lodging, entertainment, admissions, food and beverages to fund another publicly subsidized stadium for a billionaire.
After months of rhetoric from GOP lawmakers about not raising taxes, Sen. Rosen (Fairmount), Sen. Magnus (Slayton), Rep. Lanning (Moorhead), Rep. Hoppe (Chaska), Rep. Hamilton (Mountain Lake), Rep. Kriesel (Cottage Grove) and Rep. Paul Anderson (Starbuck) authored legislation that would pay for two-thirds of a $900 million stadium on the backs of taxpayers.
These wayward Republicans need to hear from you today! Producing a balanced budget signed by the Governor is job one. Increasing the tax burden on Minnesotans to build a playground for billionaire owners and millionaire players is irresponsible.
The deal reached between Republicans and Democrats in the late hours last Friday night cuts spending for the remaining six months of this fiscal year by about $39 billion. It took lawmakers all weekend and all of Monday to turn the painstakingly negotiated agreement into legislative language.
Now, the specifics of those spending cuts are available. While details of exactly how the cuts will affect Minnesota still aren't available, the cuts are wide ranging and will be felt by the public, said one Democratic staffer.
Minnesota will likely see a decline in federal assistance for local law enforcement. Two programs that help pay for equipment and salaries for police departments across the country will lose over $600 million in funding at a time when state and local budgets remain under pressure.
One of those programs has helped hire more than 1,400 police officers in Minnesota since the mid-1990s, according to DFL Sen. Al Franken's office. But the office wasn't able to provide estimates on how many officers might be affected by the budget deal.
Across the state, thousands of small projects that would have been financed by congressional earmarks won't happen. Members of DFL Rep. Betty McCollum's office pointed to the Twin Cities Central Corridor transit project as the kind of program that gets its start with earmark funding to pay for feasibility studies.
Other programs affected by the cuts include the WIC program which helps nursing mothers and children. It fed more than 240,000 Minnesotans in 2009. But even with the reduced funding, the program does not anticipate any recipients will receive less food, according to Sen. Franken's office.
Money to help people with low incomes pay for heat was also cut as part of the deal.
A wolf control program based in Grand Rapids is reportedly close to running out of money, according to the Duluth News Tribune.
Minnesota will also probably see its high speed rail plans derailed. House Republicans managed to cut off spending for one of President Obama's signature initiatives at a time when Gov. Mark Dayton was hoping to secure funds to connect the Twin Cities to Chicago.
Staffers from Sen. Franken's office said they hoped there would be other funding opportunities for high speed rail later this year, but they agreed the train program would be slowed down.
Republicans described the cuts as necessary at a time when the federal budget deficit exceeds $1.6 trillion.
"There's a lot of programs that have benefits. The challenge is to prioritize," said Republican Rep. Erik Paulsen.
Paulsen was pleased that Democrats and Republicans were able to reach a deal to cut spending and he said Republicans had re-framed the debate in Washington to focus on cutting rather than adding spending.
Republicans have already proposed even deeper cuts for next year's budget and have proposed a plan to balance the budget over several decades by transforming the Medicare program into a system of vouchers for those currently under 55.
Democrats have denounced the Republican plan, which also includes lowering tax rates on those with high incomes. Last week, DFL Rep. Keith Ellison called the plan, "the roadmap to ruin."
Amid this debate, President Obama plans to lay out his vision for how to balance the federal budget while maintaining a social safety next in a speech tomorrow.
Governor Mark Dayton is criticizing Republican legislative leaders for passing budget bills that he argues are out of balance. Dayton says the House and Senate budget plans are more than $1 billion short of erasing the state's projected $5 billion budget deficit. He says Republicans should not count on more than $500 million in savings tied to the federal government allowing the state to change how it provides health care to poor people under the federal Medicaid program. Dayton says Republicans have to figure out their own budget numbers before he'll negotiate with them.
"I'm not going to wade into their swamp and choose between crocodiles and alligators," Dayton said. "That's why I'll require them to resolve their own differences and then we'll have one set of budget numbers and they need to be validated and we'll have one set of policy proposals that will accompany that. Then we'll have some equal basis on which to negotiate."
Republicans say they'll work with Dayton to come up with a set of numbers that they can both agree on. But they say they don't intend to back away from their budget plan.
"There are some numbers issues in there that we will have to resolve before we can finish a budget deal," GOP Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch said. "There's some recognition of that. I think the biggest point of discussion has to be the idea of the Health and Human Services budget and what we're going to do with federal waivers."
Koch also emphasized that Republicans won't support a tax increase to balance the state's budget. Dayton wants an income tax hike on Minnesota's top earners.
While Dayton and GOP legislative leaders are arguing over the biggest parts of the state budget, they did reach agreement on one relatively tiny part--the agriculture budget bill. Dayton told MPR News that he'll sign the bill, which accounts for less than 1 percent of the state's total budget.
Democrat Mary Jo McGuire is headed back to the Minnesota Legislature. With all of the precincts reporting, McGuire won 80 percent of the vote in a special election to replace DFL Sen. Ellen Anderson. She defeated Republican Greg Copeland to win a seat in the Minnesota Senate. The district includes St. Paul and Falcon Heights.
Gov. Dayton called the special election after he appointed Anderson to the Public Utilities Commission.
McGuire was a member of the Minnesota House between 1989 and 2002. She retired from that body after redistricting forced her to share a House District with DFL Rep. Alice Hausman.
McGuire's victory doesn't change the makeup of the Minnesota Senate. Republicans currently hold a seven seat majority in that body.(1 Comments)