Republicans in the House and Senate planned on holding daylong meetings with Gov. Dayton on Friday and Saturday with the hopes of reaching a budget deal and averting a state government shutdown. But those talks are even in jeopardy after there was a disagreement over who should be involved in the talks.
Senate Republican Caucus spokesman Michael Brodkorb issued a statement late last night saying Gov. Dayton agreed to talks that would only include Dayton, GOP House Speaker Kurt Zellers and GOP Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch. But Brodkorb said in an e-mail that the talks are now in jeopardy because Dayton wants DFL House Minority Leader Paul Thissen and DFL Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk involved as well.
Governor Dayton communicated that he was now requesting that Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk and House Minority Leader Paul Thissen would also be in the room for negotiations. The Governor admitted that this was not part of the original agreement. Rep. Thissen and Sen. Bakk have offered little, if anything, to recent budget negotiations. They have also previously stated that they have no intention of offering a global budget solution.
While Senate Majority Leader Koch is committed to reaching a budget solution and preventing a state government shutdown, Governor Dayton's decision to break the agreement calls into question whether there will be any meetings on Friday or Saturday. Senate Majority Leader Koch is available for direct comment on this disappointing development.
Dayton and the Legislature have until July 1 to reach a budget deal. State government will shut down if no agreement is reached.
Gov. Dayton's Senior Communications Advisor Bob Hume issued a statement Thursday morning:
"The governor's priority is finding a fair and balanced budget solution. We urge the Republican leadership to reconsider the gravity of the situation Minnesotans are facing and meet tomorrow morning at 9:00 am so we can work in a bipartisan way on a meaningful compromise."(9 Comments)
Posted at 6:14 AM on June 23, 2011
by Tom Scheck
Filed under: Daily Digest
A Ramsey County judge holds a hearing today on plans to continue to state services in the event of a shutdown.
Attorneys for Attorney General Lori Swanson, Gov. Dayton, the Minnesota House, the Minnesota Senate and a variety of other groups will appear before the court.
Judge Kathleen Gearin will also determine whether a suit challenging the constitutionality of the request is legit. The Minnesota Supreme Court dismissed the challenge because it was filed in the wrong venue.
The Minnesota Senate is making the argument to shut down pretty much every level of state spending.
The hearing comes at a time when Dayton and GOP lawmakers are increasing their rhetoric over the state budget. Gov. Dayton held a news conference outlining "what's at stake" over the budget battle.
GOP lawmakers were planning all day meetings with Dayton on Friday and Saturday but later announced the talks are in jeopardy because they are concerned about Gov. Dayton's decision to include DFL House Minority Leader Paul Thissen and DFL Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk.
City officials want state aid to continue.
The PoliGraph says Gov. Dayton's tax claims are mostly true.
The shutdown highlights the thin financial woes for nursing homes.
A shutdown would jeopardize abuse shleters.
DFLers hear education policy fears from Duluth educators.
MnSCU Trustees approved a budget with tuition increases.
A Shoreview councilman says the stadium should be built in St. Paul and Minneapolis and the Vikings should pay for it.
President Obama announced that he was withdrawing 33,000 troops from Afghanistan by next summer.
MPR takes a look at the Minnesota reaction to Obama's speech.
The Fed says the economic recovery is slowing and the outlook for next year has gotten worse.
The Congressional Budget Office warns of a debt explosion.
Minnesota lawmakers warn of the impact of Medicaid cuts.
Race for President
A KSTP/Survey USA poll says President Obama and Tim Pawlenty are tied in Minnesota. The poll shows Obama leading GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann. Both Bachmann and Pawlenty trail Mitt Romney among Republicans.
The Washington Post says some of Tim Pawlenty's aides are working for little or no money. Is it a sign his fundraising reports will be lower than expected?
Alexander Burns with Politico asks whether Pawlenty's statement on Afghanistan is "is making the calculation that the GOP remains the party of Dick Cheney at heart.
The Atlantic Monthly takes a look at whether Pawlenty's pastor will help or hurt his candidacy.
GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann will travel to Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina next week.
She's also holding a Saturday night party in Waterloo.
AP says Bachmann is announcing in Iowa after a slow start in Iowa.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry schedules a New Hamsphire visit.
Posted at 9:10 AM on June 23, 2011
by Mark Zdechlik
Filed under: Tim Pawlenty
According to a report in the Washington Post, "at least five top advisers to former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty have been working for little or no pay for several months." The newspaper attributes that information to "a campaign source."
The source told the Post Wednesday that the pay status of several aides is not a reflection of any sudden fundraising problem with the Pawlenty 2012 presidential campaign. "We're raising exactly what we said we were going to raise. We're paying our consultants exactly what they expected to be paid right now," the Post quotes the source.
Political analysts have repeatedly said that unless Pawlenty is able to report substantial fundraising success for the second quarter of the year which ends this month, his campaign could face serious obstacles going forward.
The Post quotes Pawlenty spokesman Alex Conant saying Pawlenty's campaign is well-positioned to compete. "We are confident that we will raise the resources necessary to execute our strategy and win the nomination," Conant told the Washington Post.
Sen. Joe Gimse, R-Willmar, chair of the Senate transporation committee, says road contractors are already feeling the pinch of a looming state government shutdown.
Gimse said today that projects like the replacement of a the Bren Road bridge over US 169 in Minnetonka could have started as soon as tomorrow, according to a letter to MnDOT and copied to Republican legislators by Minnetonka City Manager John Gunyou.
Here's the letter.
Gimse says the letter is proof that MnDOT is telling contrators that they won't have legal access to state right of way -- the room they need to work -- if the state shuts down.
"They have thousands and thousands of miles of road right of way across the state of Minensota," Gimse said at a Capitol press briefing this afternoon.
"They don't supervise every mile of that road right of way. These contractors know what they're doing, they understand what they're doing. It's simply a way, I believe, for them to inflict additional pain. It makes no sense. It's simply grass area on the sides of the road where equipment will stand, where materials will stand. And maybe a staging area."
MnDOT didn't have an immediate response to Gimse's accusations.
He called on Dayton to call the legislature back into session and allow lawmakers to pass a bill that would let billions of dollars in dedicated road funding keep flowing.
"We could get it done in four hours," Gimse said.
Update: Here's a response from MnDOT spokesman Kevin Gutknecht:
MnDOT is the legal owner of trunk highway right-of-way and is responsible for its condition.
By state law, it is illegal to do work in state right-of-way unless it is authorized by the state road authority. MS 160.2715.
MnDOT inspectors insure that contractors are meeting contract specifications when constructing any type of infrastructure. Not conducting the inspections could put taxpayers at risk financially if the work needs to be done over. And, if work does not meet appropriate safety specifications, it could put the driving public at risk.
President Obama on Wednesday outlined his plans to pull troops out of Afghanistan.
Here's how Rep. Betty McCollum responded to Obama's proposal to bring home some of the 33,000 troops he sent there in 2009.
"It is time for the U.S. to bring our troops home and limit the more than $2 billion per week being spent on this war while we face a serious fiscal crisis at home," she said in a June 23, 2011 press release. "After 10 years of service and sacrifice from American troops and a $400 billion investment by U.S. taxpayer dollars, the people of Afghanistan need to take control of their destiny and demonstrate to the world they can stand on their own."
McCollum's right: The war is costing a lot of money.
About $113 billion will be spent on Afghanistan operations in fiscal year 2011, or, about $2.4 billion each week, according to a Congressional Research Services report.
The U.S. hasn't always spent that much money in Afghanistan. In fiscal year 2003, the U.S. spent $306 million. In 2009, when Obama sent in more troops, the costs soared. .
On the second part of her claim, McCollum's estimate is a bit low. The U.S. has spent around $444 billionon Afghanistan war, which began right after 9/11. That includes funding for war operations, diplomatic efforts and the medical care for war vets, according to the same CRS report.
McCollum's claim is right. She gets an accurate.
Rep. Betty McCollum, Congresswoman Betty McCollum Responds to President Obama's Plan to Withdraw U.S. Troops from Afghanistan, June 23, 2011
The White House, Remarks by the President on the Way Forward in Afghanistan, June 22, 2011
CNN, Obama announces Afghanistan troop withdrawal plan, June 22, 2011
The Congressional Research Service, The Cost of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Other
Global War on Terror Operations Since 9/11, by Amy Belasco, March 29, 2011
The Christian Science Monitor, Afghanistan troop drawdown: why Congress doesn't like it, by Gail Russell Chaddock, June 23, 2011
Interview, Maria Reppas, spokeswoman, Rep. Betty McCollum, June 23, 2011
Ramsey County Judge Kathleen Gearin is considering whether she should rule that some areas of spending should continue if state government shuts down on July 1st. Attorney General Lori Swanson is asking Gearin to continue funding after a shutdown for critical services like prison guards, the state patrol and subsidized health insurance. Gearin said repeatedly during a court hearing today that she was uncomfortable wading into a dispute between Gov. Dayton and the Legislature and urged the two sides to get a deal done.
"I wouldn't want to be in the Legislature. I wouldn't want to be governor," Gearin said at the end of the hearing. "They've got a tough task. We have hard economic times. We have all kinds of social issues that are extemely complex and becoming more complex. I want to say this respectfully but it feels sometimes like almost a game of chicken."
Swanson is seeking court-ordered funding in case Dayton and Republican legislative leaders can't reach agreement on a new budget by July 1st. During her presentation, Swanson cited constitutional requirements for government to protect health and safety. She specifically highlighted state government services for the mentally ill, veterans and the state patrol. Swanson said a court order is a fiscal necessity.
"We're eight days away from the end of this biennium," Swanson said. "Absent resolution of the budget impasse in the next eight days state government will shut down. A government shutdown without a court order will violate the constitutional protections guaranteed to Minnesota citizens."
Attorney David Lillehaug, who is representing Dayton in the case, told Gearin that the governor is prepared to take action on his own if necessary to keep essential services running.
"He will act not based on his priorities," Lillehaug said. "But on what he understands to be critical services that are necessary to protect the life and safety of the people of Minnesota. So he will execute his constitutional responsibilities, and as of now, he's not asking a court for approval of that."
Earlier in the day, Judge Kathleen Gearin rejected Dayton's request for court-ordered mediation in the state budget dispute. She also rejected a petition from four Republican state Senators to intervene in the case.
The hearing last the entire day. Judge Gearin allowed the afternoon session to be recorded for broadcast. Here are the two afternoon portions of the hearing.
Hearing 1: Listen
Hearing 2: Listen
Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty leads the GOP presidential pack when it comes to approval among evangelical leaders, according to a recent poll.
The monthly survey, conducted by the National Association of Evangelicals, shows that 45 percent of the nation's evangelical leaders favor Pawlenty over other candidates, including Mitt Romney, who's preferred by 14 percent of the group's members.
About 22 percent of those surveyed were undecided.
The group's president, Leith Anderson, is senior pastor at Wooddale Church in Eden Prairie, Minn., where Pawlenty attends church.
Here's what Anderson had to say about the poll:
"Pawlenty leads the list of Republican candidates for our evangelical leaders which might be expected since he is so often identified as an evangelical. Although, like the rest of the nation, there are still many undecided. With more than a year before the national nominating conventions, a lot can change."