Republicans in the Minnesota Legislature are going to stand together on a redistricting plan. Senate Republicans say they will adopt the House GOP plan. Democrats say there wasn't enough public input taken before the maps were released.
Tidbit: The Senate will release its proposal to redraw the state's congressional maps later this week.
The House Redistricting Committee approved the plan on a party line vote.
Tidbit: Expect the courts to take over the map. Gov. Dayton says he wants to see broad bipartisan support for the plan. Something that has not occurred with this plan.
A plan to put a casino at Block E in Minneapolis will be announced today. Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak says he's opposed to it.
Gov. Dayton will take questions from reporters today at a morning news conference.
GOP Sen. David Hann is headed to Washington D.C. today to meet with members of Minnesota's Congressional delegation to discuss health care. Hann will not be meeting with members of President Obama's Administration, who would determine whether the state could get a federal waiver that Hann is pursuing. Gov. Dayton has criticized Hann and GOP Rep. Jim Abeler for booking hundreds of millons of dollars in savings from a waiver he argues won't ever come.
Tidbit: The Senate Republican Caucus is paying for Hann's trip.
The Star Tribune says House Republicans are reexamining funding for some key arts and cultural programs. MPR, which receives funds from the sales tax, is targeted.
Ramsey County officials say they're inching closer to reaching a deal with the Vikings over a new stadium.
Minnesota lost more than 50,000 manufacturing jobs during the last recession and experts predict many will not come back.
A Senate committee approves legislation that restricts abortions in Minnesota.
Hundreds of seniors rallied at the Capitol over the threat of the cuts.
Gov. Dayton plans to spend $400 million on Minnesota highways.
The White House now says Osama Bin Laden was unarmed during the assault.
DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar appeared on MPR's Midday. Listen to the show here.
The new Stillwater bridge will get a Congressional hearing.
Race for President
Tim Pawlenty campaigned in Iowa. He promised a one on one campaign there.
Pawlenty also tried to encourage his competitors to enter the race.
He'll be the only top GOP name at a Thursday night debate.
A lot of Pawlenty's staff made the trip to Iowa.
GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann will attend the Faith and Freedom conference in June.
Tweet of the Day
"When you think about it, Barack Obama spent 831 days of his presidency NOT killing Osama Bin Laden. "- Comedy Central host Stephen Colbert(2 Comments)
U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan's budget proposal includes a big change to Medicare. Most notably, the Republican chairman of the House Budget Committee aims to convert the program into a system that offers what he calls "premium support," which his detractors call vouchers. Among those defending Ryan's proposal is Rep. Chip Cravaack of Minnesota.
"The [new Medicare] benefits being proposed is what I receive in Congress right now," Cravaack assured listeners of April 14, 2011, Midmorning broadcast.
On the surface, there are similarities between the two plans. Look deeper, and the differences are stark.
Currently, the government pays doctors and hospitals for treating Medicare patients, though some beneficiaries also pay premiums and other costs.
The Ryan plan would change all that for those who are younger than 55. Starting in 2022, the government would provide beneficiaries with a payment, which they would use to buy insurance that meets standards set out by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), a branch of government that also sets standards for federal employee coverage. Just as federal employees do, Medicare beneficiaries would be able to choose a private plan from an array of choices.
That's where similarities between the plans end.
The federal employee plan isn't much different from private sector employee-sponsored coverage: the federal government - or the "employer" - pays roughly 75 percent of premium costs, and federal employees pick up the remainder.
That ratio is commonly called the "Fair Share" formula because even if health care costs rise, the federal government is required by law to pick up the bulk of the tab.
Ryan proposes to link Medicare payments to the consumer price index, which has lagged behind increases in the cost of medical care. Over time, the payments Ryan is proposing would buy less coverage as a result, potentially making it difficult to purchase plans similar to those enjoyed by federal employees.
In fact, the Congressional Budget Office predicts that, under the Ryan plan, by 2030, the average 65-year-old beneficiary would be paying 68 percent of his or her benefits compared to 25 percent under current law.
It's also worth pointing out that no detail has been given on how OPM would structure these plans and what sort of benefits insurance providers would be required to include. So, it's impossible to say whether Medicare coverage would be like coverage Cravaack gets.
There's a nugget of truth in Cravaack's claim: the Republican plan envisions that Medicare and federal employee benefits would have to meet standards set by the same branch of government, and that both groups would get to choose from an array of private plans.
But Cravaack's statement that the GOP Medicare proposal is "what I receive in Congress right now" is misleading to the point of being false because the government is guaranteed to cover 75 percent of his premium costs, regardless of how expensive health care gets. That's not the case for the new Medicare plan proposed by the GOP; in fact, it is likely beneficiaries will end up paying far more than they do now.
Minnesota Public Radio News, Midmorning, April 14, 2011
The Path to Prosperity: Restoring America's Promise, accessed May 3, 2011
The Congressional Budget Office, Letter to Paul Ryan regarding proposed changes to Medicare and Medicaid, April 5, 2011
The New York Times, Comparing Ryan's Medicare Plan to What Congress Gets, by Uwe E. Reinhardt, April 18, 2011
The Congressional Research Services, Health Benefits for Members of Congress, by Barbara English, Sept. 25, 2007
The U.S. Office of Personnel Management, Federal Employees Health Benefits Program Handbook, accessed May 3, 2011
The Commonwealth Fund, Stark Choices: The Health Care Budget Proposals from the President and the House of Representatives, April 29, 2011, by Karen Davis
PolitiFact.com, Mike Pence said the Republican Medicare proposal will allow seniors to buy the same kind of health care as Congress, by Angie Drobnic Holan, April 13, 2011
The Washington Post, Fact Checker: GOP Medicare plan 'just like' Congress's coverage?, by Glenn Kessler, April 30, 2011
Interview, Shawn Ryan, spokesman, Rep. Chip Cravaack, May 2, 2011
Interview, Jack Hoadley, Georgetown University Health Policy Institute, May 3, 2011
Interview, Stuart Guterman, Vice President for Payment and System Reform, the Commonwealth Fund, May 3, 2011
The Humphrey School(3 Comments)
Sen. Doug Magnus, R-Slayton, and Rep. John Kriesel, R-Cottage Grove, took the stage over on Block E this morning to talk about their proposal to authorize a state-sanctioned casino on Hennepin Avenue.
Magnus said during the press conference that he expected it could bring $125 million or more to the state, and that he'd like it to go toward $1.2 to $1.5 billion dollars of transportation bonding. And maybe even a Vikings stadium.
Co-sponsor Kriesel was a little more circumspect about the idea and said he just wanted it to go toward infrastructure. "There's a lot of guys out of work out there," he said in an interview. He'd like to use the casino to put them to work.
Developer Bob Lux said he thought it could help bring 4 million new people to downtown. His handout promises a $50 million upfront fee and $250 per biennium thereafter.
He also said a 3% tax could put about $13 million a year on Minneapolis' bottom line. City Council president Barb Johnson said in an interview it would likely go to the general fund -- she specifically said she didn't want it to go for the city's share of a new NFL stadium.
We also couldn't help but notice that it looked like artist Dale Chihuly might get a piece of the casino action, too. That sculpture in the lobby sure looks a lot like his Sunburst hanging in the lobby of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.
Prominent author Neil Gaiman is taking issue with comments Minnesota House Majority Leader Matt Dean made about him in this morning's Star Tribune. The story focused on efforts by House Republicans to change how Legacy funds are distributed (note: MPR receives Legacy Fund money and would be impacted by the change).
"Dean also singled out a $45,000 payment of Legacy money that was made last year to science fiction writer Neil Gaiman for a four-hour speaking appearance. Dean said that Gaiman, "who I hate," was a "pencil-necked little weasel who stole $45,000 from the state of Minnesota."
Dean said it was legal for the sci-fi writer to take the money but said Gaiman should give it back.
Those comments prompted Gaiman to shoot back on Twitter.
"Sad & funny. Minnesota Republicans have a "hate" list. Like Nixon did. I'm on it. They also don't like capitalism," Gaiman wrote in one tweet.
"It's strange watching a grownup high school bully in power. But the bully vocabulary remains the same," Gaiman wrote in another.
"Any nice, sane Minnesota Republicans reading this, please vote for someone who isn't a bully with a hate list next time," Gaiman wrote in another.
Gaiman has 1.5 million followers on Twitter. He directed them to visit Dean's blog, which apparently crashed the site.
"Bugger. Did not mean to #neilwebfail the twit's site. Sorry," Gaiman wrote.
Dean was not available to discuss Gaiman's comments with MPR.(4 Comments)
Gov. Dayton held a press briefing with reporters today and he criticized GOP legislative leaders for failing to send him a budget plan. Conference committees are currently meeting on the state's budget but have made little to no progress on erasing the state's $5 billion projected budget deficit. Dayton set a May 6th deadline for lawmakers to pass their budget plan - a deadline that the GOP is unlikely to meet.
"The ball's in their court. I'm waiting, and I've been waiting for some time now. I'll keep waiting until the produce conference reports and send them to me and then we can begin the negotiations."
Dayton said he will not begin negotiating with GOP leaders until the House and Senate come up with one budget proposal. Dayton is proposing an income tax hike on Minnesota's top earners. Republicans have argued that they can balance the budget without taxes but use one-time money, increased tax collections that may never materialize and federal approval to change Minnesota's Medicaid system.
Dayton was talking with reporters as Sen. David Hann, R-Eden Prairie, is in Washington to meet with Minnesota's Congressional delegation on ways to reduce Minnesota's health care costs. Dayton questioned Hann's trip when asked about it.
"Anyone who is going to Washington for advice on how to resolve a budget deficit is headed in the wrong direction," Dayton said.
Dayton also said he was open to "any revenue raising opportunities" when asked about building a casino at Block E in Minneapolis. But Dayton said the state should receive at least half of any of the revenues generated from the Block E casino or the Racino proposals at the state's two horse tracks.
Dayton also said he would be willing to sign a bill that authorizes a new Vikings stadium before the state resolves the state's budget deficit. He emphasized, however, that the Vikings stadium and the bonding bill should not be considered end of session bargaining chips.
You can listen to Dayton's full news conference here: Listen
WASHINGTON - With Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden dead and buried at sea, DFL Rep. Keith Ellison and other liberal Democrats are calling on the Obama Administration to begin a "significant" withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan.
In a letter to President Obama, members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, which Ellison co-chairs, wrote, "now is the time to shift toward the swift, safe, and responsible withdrawal of U.S. troops and military contractors from Afghanistan."
About 100,000 American soldiers currently serve in Afghanistan. The United States invaded the country shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks in order to deny Al Qaeda sanctuary there.(1 Comments)
Sen. Dick Durbin, D-IL, will speak at this year's Hubert H. Humphrey Day Dinner. The dinner, which is a fundraiser for the Minnesota DFL Party, will be held on June 11th. The event, which is traditionally closed to the press, typically features a well known leader in the Democratic Party. Barney Frank spoke at last year's event.
Minnesota House Majority Leader Matt Dean of Dellwood is apologizing for calling author Neil Gaiman a "pencil-necked little weasel," but isn't backing off of his criticism for Gaiman collecting a $45,000 speaking fee from state taxpayers.
Dean originally made the comment while talking about changes to how the state's Legacy Funds for the arts are distributed. Dean says he's sorry he called Gaiman a name but thinks he shouldn't have taken the fee for speaking at the Stillwater library last year.
"My mom is staying with us right now because my wife's out of town," Dean said. "She was very angry this morning and always taught me not to be a name caller. And I shouldn't have done it, and I apologize."
Gaiman reacted to Dean's comments by saying Dean was engaging in "lunatic schoolyard rhetoric." Gaiman said he gave the speaking fee to charity. The funds were collected through a sales tax dedicated to the environment, the outdoors, the arts and cultural programs.
Update: Gaiman gives a full explanation of his speaking fees here.(91 Comments)
GOP legislative leaders aren't embracing proposal that expand gambling in Minnesota. Lawmakers introduced a bill that would allow for a Casino to be operated at the Block E development in downtown Minneapolis. There are also efforts to allow slot machines at the state's two horse tracks and a bill that allows for slot machines in bars.
Governor Dayton has said he's open to revenue raisers provided the state receives half of the funding generated from the casino. GOP legislative leaders, however, aren't interested.
Senate Republican Majority Leader Amy Koch of Buffalo said her caucus does not have a position on the casino bill or any other proposal to expand gambling. Koch argues that new gambling revenue is not needed to help erase the state's projected $5 billion budget deficit.
"We absolutely do not believe we need new revenues to fix this budget," Koch said. "We think we need to live within out means, and what's in the checkbook is what's in the checkbook, and we can budget to that."
GOP House Majority Leader Matt Dean also says his caucus isn't interested in relying on gambling funds to help erase the state's budget deficit.
"We understand that there are people on both sides of the aisle who are very interested in this issue," Dean said. "But that is separated from our budget issues which we have intentionally put forward without the necessity for revenue from gaming."
The Senate State Government Innovation and Veterans Budget and Policy Committee was scheduled to take up the so-called Racino bill but Chair Mike Parry said the hearing will not happen. The House Jobs and Economic Development Committee is scheduled to take up the Racino bill tomorrow.
WASHINGTON - Southern Minnesota doesn't have any ocean shoreline or a constituency of high-end yacht owners, and maybe that's why DFL Rep. Tim Walz has introduced the Ending Taxpayer Subsidies for Yachts Act.
The bill would prohibit boat owners from taking the mortgage interest deduction on their vessel by claiming it as a second home.
Walz introduced the bill jointly with Reps. Mike Quigley (D-IL) and Gary Peters (D-MI).
Boats equipped with bedding, toilets and a kitchen are considered to be equivalent to houses under the tax code.
In a press release, Walz's office noted that more than 500,000 boats were large enough to qualify for the tax credit in 2004 even though just 100,000 Americans live on boats full time.
"If you're buying a $3 million yacht, you're probably not looking just for the [mortgage] interest deduction," said Walz during a brief interview with Minnesota Public Radio News.
He conceded that the bill's purpose was mostly symbolic, saying, "It's a bill to show that this tax code and some of our problems, aren't just the middle class's issues."(2 Comments)
The latest WMUR Granite State Poll, conducted by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center, shows Mitt Romney leading the other potential GOP candidates for the White House. 36 percent of those polled say they will vote for Romeny in the New Hampshire primary.
Donal Trump is second in the poll with support of 11 percent of those polled. Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani is third with support from seven percent of those polled. Mike Huckabee is polling at six percent followed by Ron Paul (six percent) and Sarah Palin (four percent). GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann is getting support from four percent of those polled.
Tim Pawlenty is tied for last in the poll with Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels. They are both receiving two percent in the poll.
You can read the full poll here.