Posted at 6:30 AM on May 16, 2011
by Tom Scheck
Filed under: Daily Digest
There are seven days to go until the end of the legislative session and Gov. Dayton and GOP legislative leaders are no closer to a budget deal.
Tidbit1: There was talk that the two sides would meet today to begin budget negotiations in earnest.
Tidbit2: One sticking point may be the failure by GOP legislative leaders to post a full budget. The Jobs and Economic Conference Committee and the Judiciary and the Public Safety Conference Committee has not posted their agreement yet.
Some of the particulars of the other budget bills are being released.
The Health and Human Services budget makes dramatic changes to state subsidized health insurance, cuts funding to disabled people and those with mental health problems.
A welfare program for the poor is also eliminated in the GOP plan.
U of M President President Bob Bruininks isn't happy about the proposed cuts to higher education.
The Star Tribune released the final portions of their poll.
Dayton's plan to raise taxes and make cuts gets higher support than an all cuts plan.
Gov. Dayton's approval rating is at 54%.
Under the Dome
Opponents of a constitutional amendment to ban same sex marriage will rally at the State Capitol Today.
Tidbit: The New York Times reports that wealthy GOP donors are giving to an effort to allow same sex marriage in New York.
The Star Tribune says there are efforts to use private money to build roads in Minnesota.
The House passed a bill on Saturday that would expand the state's gun laws.
The House also passed the Legacy Amendment but only after a skirmish broke out over funding for parks.
The Minnesota Senate passed limits on liability lawsuits.
A bill would protect women who were trafficked for sex.
Gov. Dayton caught a Northern Pike.
The Senate is expected to adopt the House plans for the legislative and congressional maps. Votes are expected early this week.
The House passed the plan for the Congressional lines on Friday.
DFL Rep. Tim Walz says "whatever comes will come" when asked about his district.
The Vikings are pushing back on the suggestion that the Arden Hills site would not be a "people's stadium.' Gov. Dayton raised those concerns on Friday.
Some lawmakers are questioning why the Vikings Stadium is getting so much attention at the end of the legislative session.
The head of the International Monetary Fund has been arrested for assaulting a hotel employee in New York City.
President Obama is going to open areas to offshore drilling for the first time.
GOP Rep. Chip Cravaack will hold three town hall meetings this week.
MNGOP Chair Tony Sutton quit all outside positions after criticism mounted over his involvement with an anti-gambling group that is funded by Native American tribes.
Race for U.S. Senate
The AP reports that Republican Dan Severson will announce today that's he's challenging DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar. It's not a surprise since Severson was at the Capitol on Friday preparing for his announcement.
Race for President
The scramble is on for Huckabee supporters.
Mike Huckabee announced that he is not running for president making the wide open Republican race in 2012 even more wide open.
Huckabee's decision also helps Tim Pawlenty's "Last man standing" strategy. Huckabee, Haley Barbour and John Thune all decided against a run.
The Fix says GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann is a winner as a result of Huckabee's decision.
Bachmann teased "a run for higher office" in an e-mail.
The Christian Broadcasting Network says Pawlenty could pick up the support of Evangelicals.
The profile of the Iowa Straw poll has been raised because of the wide open field.
Pawlenty campaigned in Iowa over the weekend.
He says he can court undecided voters.
Ron Paul announced he's running.
It's the last week of the legislative session so the Digest will be shorter and could come at weird times. I expect to be working long hours so don't be surprised if the Digest comes at 2am (before I leave work) or 10am (when I wake up).
Gov. Dayton revised his budget plan in what he says is a compromise with GOP legislative leaders. Dayton still wants to increase income taxes on Minnesota's top earners but he's lowering the number of people who will be impacted by the rate.
Dayton now wants his proposed income tax rate to apply to married couples with an annual taxable income of $250,000 a year and single filers with a annual taxable income of $150,000.
Dayton also said he would agreed to $1.8 billion in spending cuts. He also said he would agree to increase the state's per pupil spending by $50 in FY '12 and $50 in FY '13.
"My compromise represents a balanced approach to a balanced budget," Dayton said in a letter to GOP leaders. I am confident we can resolve our remaining differences in time for you to meet your Constitutional deadline of May 23rd for adjournment."
GOP legislative leaders met with Dayton earlier this morning but didn't specifically address Dayton's proposal. House Speaker Kurt Zellers and Majority Leader Amy Koch repeated their opposition to any tax increases to erase the state's $5 billion budget deficit.
Update: Here's his letter:1 Comments)
GOP House Speaker Kurt Zellers and GOP Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch are on MPR's Midday today. Host Gary Eichten asked them about the proposal by Gov. Mark Dayton to "meet them half way" on cuts and tax increases.
They didn't sound very interested in the proposition, although they're planning a more thorough response at 1:45 today.
Here's what Zellers had to say:
"It's not about us. It's about being competitive around the country. If you're an outlier on tax policy... that's bad for jobs...The debate is not whether we have enough money to run the government."
And Koch's reaction:
"In this kind of economy, we can't afford to lose any jobs to higher taxes. Minnesota government needs to do just what Minnesota businesses have been doing, just what Minnesotan families have been doing."(1 Comments)
While some members of Minnesota's congressional delegation are using this week's recess to hold town halls, DFL Rep. Keith Ellison will take part in two events of a more academic nature.
Tonight he'll be part of a panel discussing the popular revolutions in the Arab world and on Wednesday, he'll be part of a discussion about anti-Semitism.
Details from his office below:
Tonight, from 6-8 PM, Congressman Keith Ellison will participate in a panel discussion hosted by the Tahrir Institute: "The Arab Spring - Emerging Middle East Democracies and America's National Interest." Other panelists include: • Maya Berry, Executive Director of the Arab American Institute • Dr. Mansour El-Kikhia, chair of Political Science and Geography, at the University of Texas--San Antonio Open to the public. Cowles Auditorium at the Humphrey Center - 301 19th Ave. S., Minneapolis, Minnesota(1 Comments)
On Wednesday from 6:30-8:30 PM, Congressman Keith Ellison is hosting a forum on combatting Anti-Semitism and Religious Intolerance at the Sabes Jewish Community Center (4330 Cedar Lake Road in St. Louis Park). The forum will feature special guest Hannah Rosenthal, Special Envoy to Combat and Monitor Anti-Semitism at the US Department of State. All are welcome to attend and participate.
Republicans in the House and Senate have refused to release the spending levels conference committees have been given for each specific budget area.
GOP Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch repeatedly declined to provide the information and says the figures, known as targets, will be available once the respective conference committees post the information on the web.
With help from legislative staff and several lobbyists, MPR News gathered the spreadsheets for each budget area.
Here's the info that we gathered (all numbers in thousands):
|Budget Area||Targets released in conference committee||Status||Initial Senate Target||Initial House Target||Dayton plan (from March)|
|K12||14,271,912||Agreement but not signed||14,158,064||14,158,064||14,224,425|
|HHS||10,737,837||Agreement but not signed||10,737,837||10,707,110||12,167,882|
|Higher Ed||2,505,517||Agreement but not signed||2,505,518||2,505,518||2,745,672|
|Transportation||62,158||Agreement but not signed||140,158||120,158||180,060|
|State Government||601,636||Agreement but not signed||412,922||586,658||655,587|
|Public Safety, The courts and Corrections||No agreement yet||1,792,650||1,752,634||1,821,988|
|Ag and Rural Development||76,841||Already in law||76,841||76,841||239,112|
|Jobs and Economic Growth||137,246||Agreement but not signed||103,246||81,573||268,892|
|Taxes||2,576,765||Agreement but not signed||2,727,726||2,655,485||3,441,042|
|Energy, Environment and Natural Resources||201,463||Agreement but not signed||221,463||228,067||321,826|
|Debt Service||No agreement yet||1,148,994||1,165,794||1,229,358|
It's important to note that some of these targets could change.
Two conference committees (Jobs and Economic Development and Public Safety, Courts and Corrections) have not released their spending targets yet so the budget totals are not complete. I updated with Jobs and Economic Development target. It's also uncertain what the House and Senate will book in terms of debt service.
We'll update the information if/when it becomes available.
Update: The House and Senate released their working targets. These targets were given to Gov. Dayton on Friday. The figures don't necessarily mean this is what each budget division will agree to spend in their conference committee reports.
WASHINGTON - In a 2-1 decision, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a Minnesota campaign finance law that requires extensive disclosure of independent expenditures on behalf of candidates and restricts corporate contributions to state candidates and political parties.
The case, Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life vs. Swanson, follows the Citizens United Supreme Court decision in 2009, which freed corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money to support and oppose candidates for federal office.
Following that decision, the Legislature passed strict disclosure laws for corporations, which revealed Target's support for the group MN Forward, which in turn supported Tom Emmer's campaign for the governor's office.
MCCL, which opposes abortion, along with the Taxpayer's League of Minnesota and a travel agency, sued to block the law, arguing that the disclosure laws violated the groups' free speech rights and created burdensome new rules to adhere to. (Perhaps not coincidentally, the groups are represented by Jim Bopp, who also advised Citizens United.)
The court disagreed with the groups' arguments, writing, "Minnesota's provisions collectively impose no materially greater burden on corporations than the disclosure laws at issue in Citizen United."
MCCL can appeal the circuit court's decision to the Supreme Court, which recently heard a challenge to Arizona's campaign finance laws.
The group hasn't made a public statement about the decision and referred us to their lawyer for comment. I've left a message with him and will update this post if he responds with a comment.
The pro-campaign finance group, the Campaign Legal Center, supported the 8th Circuit's decision.
"This is good news for Minnesota and for the health of campaign finance law in the post-Citizens United era," said the Center's associate counsel Tara Malloy. "In light of the many pending challenges [to campaign disclosure laws], we are pleased that the Eighth Circuit has joined the Ninth Circuit and many lower courts in the last year to hold that strong disclosure laws for independent expenditures are constitutional."
You can read the full 30 page decision here.(1 Comments)
Posted at 10:03 PM on May 16, 2011
by Tom Scheck
Filed under: Campaign 2012: U.S. Senate
Republican Dan Severson launched a campaign for U.S. Senate today against incumbent DFLer Amy Klobuchar. Severson is a former state Representative and a former Navy pilot. Standing on the state Capitol steps, Severson talked about rising gas prices, problems with unemployment and the increasing national debt. He did not mention Klobuchar's name and instead broadly blamed Democrats in Washington for the nation's problems.
"Minnesota families are struggling to make ends meet," Severson said. "The solutions coming from the White House and U.S. Senate is more government control and increasing the debt limits on the backs of our children and our grandchildren."
Klobuchar was elected in 2006. She ended the first quarter of this year with more and $2.5 million in campaign cash. Severson said he thought he would need between $9 to $12 million for his Senate campaign. He also said if he failed to win the GOP endorsement, he would drop out of the race. Severson ran unsuccessfully last year for Secretary of State.
Note: A special thanks to MPR's Mark Zdechlik who shot the video, recorded audio, took pictures and wrote a story on Severson's announcement. This is proof that political reporters are forced to juggle several things at events like this. For those wondering, he's the person to the left of Severson.