Posted at 6:26 AM on June 24, 2011
by Tom Scheck
Filed under: Daily Digest
Gov. Dayton and GOP legislative leaders will meet privately today at 9am to discuss the budget. The talks will be held in a conference room near the office of GOP House Speaker Kurt Zellers.
The meeting comes one day after Ramsey County Judge Kathleen Gearin urged the two sides to compromise. Gearin suggested the two sides are playing a "game of chicken" and told the court she would reluctantly get involved in the budget if she has to.
Gearin held a lengthy hearing on a request by Attorney General Lori Swanson to continue some state spending if a state shutdown occurs. Gearin said she won't rule on Swanson's petition this week.
Gearin also declined Dayton's request to appoint a mediator.
You can listen to the second half of the hearing here.
DFL leaders were on MPR's Midday on Thursday.
Tidbit: Make sure to read and bookmark MPR's Shutdown blog.
Here's a look at some of the bills that won't get paid first.
The DNR released its shutdown plans. MPR reports that state parks will start closing at 4pm on June 30th.
The shutdown could lock out thousands of medical professionals.
Hennepin County is preparing layoffs and closings in the event of a shutdown.
Child care services could also take a hit.
A Republican senator says road projects are needlessly mothballed.
The Pi Press says Minnesota's HMOs report record profits.
The fate of 20 Minnesota charter schools is at risk as a sponsor deadline nears.
President Obama and other U.S. allies are tapping global oil reserves to help stabilize gas prices.
A key Republican pulls out of debt ceiling talks.
The House weighs cutting off funds for the mission in Libya. DFL Rep. Tim Walz is mentioned.
GOP Rep. John Kline is questioning a No Child Left Behind waiver.
Race for Congress
A Super PAC targets GOP Rep. Chip Cravaack.
Race for President
An AP poll Tim Pawlenty and Michele Bachmann are picking up support from Republicans.
Politico says Mitt Romney is leading the dash for cash.
Romney's backers launch a Super PAC.
Pawlenty will deliver a foreign policy speech on Tuesday.
A poll says Pawlenty is favored among evangelical leaders.
Pawlenty is raising money through a Florida mailer.
President Obama will visit Iowa next week.
WASHINGTON - The U.S. House of Representatives has voted down a resolution that would have given President Obama authorization to continue military operations in Libya.
The measure drew just 123 votes in favor, including DFL Reps. Keith Ellison, Betty McCollum and Tim Walz.
In a rebuke to President Obama, 70 Democrats, including Minnesota's Collin Peterson, crossed the aisle to join 225 Republicans opposed to authorizing the Libya mission. All four Minnesota Republicans voted against the resolution.
There's another vote coming soon on whether or not to cut off funding for combat operations associated with the Libya mission. That measure is expected to pass and we'll post again with the vote breakdown and reactions from lawmakers.
Today's votes have mostly symbolic significance as the Democrat-controlled Senate is unlikely to take up the House bills.(3 Comments)
From MPR's Tim Pugmire:
DFL Governor Mark Dayton and Republican legislative leaders say they're committed to lengthy negotiations over the next two days to try to reach a budget deal and avoid a government shutdown.
That potential shutdown is now just one week away. After an initial discussion this morning, both sides emerged from Republican House Speaker Kurt Zellers' office and announced they would not comment on specifics during the course of negotiations. Dayton said the format of the talks is a work in progress.
"We're not constrained to any particular format," Dayton said. "We'll see what's effective. Again, I think we've agreed among ourselves we'll get more done more effectively if we say okay, we're not going to comment on the particulars until we have a result."
Speaker Zellers said he planned to work hard and quickly. But he said he would also keep negotiating beyond Saturday if necessary.(1 Comments)
Posted at 1:40 PM on June 24, 2011
by Elizabeth Dunbar
Filed under: 2011 Shutdown
The demolition of the Bren Road bridge at Highway 169 in Minnetonka won't happen as scheduled this weekend because of the possible government shutdown, City Manager John Gunyou said.
MnDOT has said it expects to prohibit any work within the state right-of-way during a government shutdown, which will begin July 1 unless Gov. Mark Dayton and GOP legislative leaders agree on a budget.
Gunyou this week sent a letter to MnDOT questioning the decision, pointing out that the Minnetonka project is being managed and inspected entirely by the city and its contractors, not the state. Gunyou sent another letter today in response to what MnDOT spokesman Kevin Gutknecht told us yesterday about the right-of-way issues.
In the letter, Gunyou says if MnDOT is concerned about jobs being adequately inspected, the city will pay for an additional inspector to be on hand during a government shutdown.
Gunyou says the bridge demolition is on a two-week delay. But if there's a shutdown, the demolition would be delayed further unless the city gets MnDOT to let the project go on during a shutdown.
City officials estimate that stopping the project because of a shutdown will cost up to $3 million for the $15 million project. Potential costs include increased easement rent, delay penalties to contractors and increased expenses to close down and re-open the construction site.
"This is a project that is totally independent of any state shutdown. There's no reason this project has to stop," Gunyou said. "Rather than making the best of a bad situation, they're going out of their way to stop everything."
The city is asking MnDOT to respond by noon on Monday.
GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann issued a news release today saying that a potential state government shutdown shows the need for a new bridge in Stillwater. State officials announced last week that the lift bridge will not be operating if state government shuts down on July 1.
Bachmann said the problem is proof a new bridge needs to be built.
"The prospect of the Stillwater Lift Bridge being locked in the 'up' position during a state government shutdown serves as another compelling reason for a new St. Croix River crossing. The bridge closure will result in more than 16,000 rerouted daily drivers experiencing increased travel times that will raise the cost of their daily commute.
"The 80-year-old lift bridge has been in need of replacement for decades, and we are now closer than ever to a new crossing. This spring I introduced a bipartisan bill in the House, and Senator Amy Klobuchar (MN) introduced a similar bill with bipartisan support in the Senate, that would allow the river crossing project to move forward. I urge my colleagues to give these bills immediate attention. Once a new bridge exists, the Minnesota and Wisconsin residents who frequently cross the river will not have to worry about the impact that operational delays of the lift bridge will have on their daily commute."
Bachmann also said federal law requires lift bridges to remain open if no operator is available.
WASHINGTON - The U.S. House of Representatives defeated a largely symbolic motion today that would have withdrawn funding for combat operations in Libya.
Republican Reps. Chip Cravaack and John Kline, both retired military officers, supported the measure, which was defeated 180-238. The other six members of Minnesota's congressional delegation voted against the measure.
Many in Congress were upset that President Obama had not asked for continuing authorization to carry out raids on Libya, as called for by the War Powers Act.
In a statement, Kline said he voted for the bill because, "I remain deeply concerned that the president has failed to clearly define our objective in Libya to the American people - including our troops."
Some typically anti-war Democrats switched positions on this vote, supporting the administration.
Earlier this week, DFL Rep. Keith Ellison said he was disappointed by President Obama's newly-announced plan to begin drawing down forces in Afghanistan, saying, "I just think it's time get out of there."
But today, Ellison, who's also co-chair of the generally anti-war Congressional Progressive Caucus, said he supports continuing U.S. military operations against the Libyan regime.
"The U.S. actions in Libya are not like those in Iraq and should not be allowed to evolve into a situation like the Iraq War. We did not unilaterally declare war against another country," Ellison said. "Our actions were sanctioned by the UN, the Arab League, and - most importantly - the Libyan people themselves."
It's 2010 all over again.
Or so it would seem from a fundraising email sent by Democrat Tarryl Clark to supporters today.
Clark likens GOP Rep. Chip Cravaack to Rep. Michele Bachmann - the lawmaker Clark lost to last year in her bid to represent Minnesota's 6th district in Congress.
In the email, Clark accused Cravaack of doing nothing to create jobs in the 8th district, where Clark moved earlier this year as a first step toward trying to unseat Cravaack.
Here's part of Clark's pitch:
"Cravaack's actions are no surprise. He's been a supporter of Michele Bachmann's agendas since he got to Congress, and creating more problems for seniors and families - never solving them - is a page right out of her book."(1 Comments)
"With Bachmann running for President it's clear that Chip Cravaack has become her heir apparent in Congress."
Gov. Dayton and GOP legislative leaders intend to continue budget negotiations tomorrow with the hope of averting a state government shutdown next Friday. The two sides wrapped up an all-day round of private budget meetings today.
"We made progress," GOP Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch said to reporters during a brief news conference.
The two sides met privately in a conference room outside of the Speaker Office in the State Office Building. The chairs of the respective committees shuffled in and out of meetings that featured Koch, Assistant Senate Majority Leader Geoff Michel, GOP House Speaker Kurt Zellers, House Majority Leader Matt Dean and House Ways and Means Chair Mary Liz Holberg. Gov. Dayton was flanked by Management and Budget Commissioner Jim Schowalter, DFL House Minority Leader Paul Thissen and DFL Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk.
Dayton and the GOP controlled Legislature disagree over the best way to erase a $5 billion projected budget deficit. Dayton wants to increase taxes on top earners. Republicans say the shortfall can be erased through spending cuts.
Neither side offered specifics on the discussions but Dayton called it a constructive day.
"We've run through a number of expenditure bills," Dayton said. "We've come to agreement on considerable parts of them. We've had areas of disagreement on parts of them. We have areas of disagreement that we'll go back to but it was a very worthwhile day but I feel good about the rapport we've established, the civility that prevailed and the results that we've achieved."
Dayton and GOP leaders declined to say if they reached agreement on a total budget amount. Zellers and Koch said they talked mostly about State Government Finance, K12, Transportation, Public Safety and the Courts and Jobs and Economic Development in today's meetings. They say they'll talk about those bills along with Taxes, Health and Human Services, Environment and Higher Education tomorrow.
Dayton was careful to note that they haven't reached agreement on any individual budget bills.
Zellers said Governor Dayton and Republican leaders both want to reach a deal.
"We've gone through spreadsheets. We took out highlighters," Zellers said. "It was a very productive day. We covered a lot of issue areas in the time that we were in there. I share the governor's sentiment."
Dayton and lawmakers are bumping against a July first deadline. State government will shut down if Dayton and lawmakers don't reach a budget deal.
There have been a few signals that the two sides are making progress in reaching a deal. They held a news conference together instead of separately. They have also declined to discuss budget specifics with the press and dropped their respective talking points during their brief comments to the media. But Dayton signaled that they still had work to do when asked if he was optimistic that a deal can be reached by next Friday.
"I'm not confident of anything other than the sun rising," Dayton said. "We'll see what happens tomorrow."
Dayton and GOP leaders meet again tomorrow morning at 9:30.