The fire in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness continues to balloon in size. Federal fire crews and the National Guard have been called in to help fight the blaze. The estimated size of the blaze is 100,000 acres and growing.
Gov. Dayton directed four Minnesota National Guard UH-60 "Blackhawk" Helicopters and Army and Air National Guard Aviation support teams to begin assisting firefighting efforts.
Under the Dome
Democrats are making an effort to restore the Market Value Homestead Credit. The popular tax break for homeowners was eliminated in the state budget deal.
Gov. Dayton speaks to the Eden Prairie Chamber of Commerce today. He held an economic round table on the Iron Range on Tuesday.
The Mesabi Daily News says Dayton is talking with his commissioners about creating a point person to help accelerate mining projects toward development.
The MPCA approved an air permit for a taconite expansion. The approval means the U.S. Steel plant can emit more mercury.
MPR takes a look at efforts to clean Minnesota's waters.
Attorney General Lori Swanson dropped Dorsey and Whitney as the state's bond counsel.
The Minneapolis Police pension fund approved a merger with the state's pension fund.
President Obama takes his jobs pitch to North Carolina today. He was Ohio on Tuesday.
CNN says Obama's push for the bill could last months.
The Financial Times says President Obama will propose cuts to Medicare and Medicaid.
The debt panel started its work on Tuesday.
The White House is pressed on a $500 million loan to a solar company that is now under investigation.
There will be a new airport security policy for children.
5,400 Hill staffers have gone to K Street.
A fraud case rocks the Democratic Party in California.
DFL Rep. Keith Ellison says he's uncomfortable with the Social Security tax cut in President Obama's jobs plan.
Congress passed GOP Rep. John Kline's Education bill and extended transportation funding.
The education bill would also expand charter schools.
DFL Rep. Tim Walz joins an effort to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act.
Militants in Kabul launched an attack on the U.S. Embassy.
The GOP candidate in NY-9 scored a major upset in a special election in that state Republicans say it's a bad sign for President Obama.
A Republican also won a Nevada special election easily.
The party-backed candidates running to win two Minnesota Senate seats won their primary battles. The general election is scheduled for October 18.
Race for President
A Bachmann Super PAC typifies new election ground rules.
AP says Bachmann's book is called "Core of Conviction."
An unidentified Pawlenty staffer throws Nick Ayers under the bus.
Politico reports that Pawlenty had a retire the debt party in Washington D.C.(1 Comments)
In recent weeks, school funding has become a flashpoint between DFL and Republican lawmakers.
Republicans say they've increased school funding, a claim that PoliGraph ruled misleading. And they're speaking out against districts that are trying to increase levies to pay for schools.
Meanwhile, DFL leaders are claiming that a decision to delay payments to school districts included in the state's budget was a Republican idea.
During a press conference to announce a state-wide tour to talk about school support, House Minority Leader Paul Thissen said, "The school shift is a Republican policy that comes from the fact that they're unwilling to ask millionaires to help out and resolve our state budget deficit."
It's difficult to pinpoint when the accounting move originated because budget negotiations were held behind closed doors. But it's clear that both sides agreed to the budget fix.
Delaying school payments is a budget balancing technique that's used regularly. Schools are given some state aid immediately, and the rest later. Technically, it is not considered a cut in funding, but the delays do complicate the budgeting process for schools; some have been forced to borrow money.
Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty delayed payments to schools to close the state's budget gap. During his campaign, Gov. Mark Dayton said he would pay back $1.4 billion in delayed aid during his first budget cycle.
But when faced with the state's massive budget deficit, Dayton abandoned his plan and instead pushed-off the payments a second time.
Throughout the legislative session, lawmakers worked to close the deficit, and in the final days before the government shutdown that started on July 1, 2011, they were still $1.4 billion short.
It's hard to say exactly when talk of delayed payments to schools resurfaced because lawmakers held their negotiations behind closed doors. Thissen said the GOP first raised the possibility of saving $350 million by delaying additional school payments on June 29, and shared notes from that meeting with MPR News to support his claim.
But a spokeswoman for the House GOP said she couldn't confirm the discussion.
Over the following two days, the parties exchanged offers on paper. According to a letter dated June 30, Dayton considered making up most of the $1.4 billion shortfall by delaying half of the money schools were promised.
The same day, the GOP countered with a scaled back version of the delayed payments that would save $700 million in addition to the $1.4 billion already included in Dayton's initial budget, and that's the combination of savings that ended up in the final funding deal.
Thissen contends Republicans forced the Legislature to adopt additional school payments. While it's true that the first round of delays wouldn't have been on the books had it not been for Pawlenty, both parties at one point or another put additional school funding delays on the table during budget negotiations.
Thissen's claim is misleading.
Minnesota Public Radio News, DFLers plan statewide meetings critical of GOP education policies, by Tim Pugmire, Sept. 6, 2011
Minnesota Management and Budget, Gov. Mark Dayton's FY 2012-2013 Biennial Budget, accessed September 14, 2011
MPR's Shutdown 2011 Blog, Final budget offers, accessed September 14, 2011
Interview, Rep. Paul Thissen, September 8, 2011
Email exchange, Jodi Boyne, spokeswoman House GOP, September 8, 2011
Gov. Mark Dayton says he's still thinking about issuing an executive order that would allow in-home child care workers to vote on whether they should form a union. Dayton told reporters today that he is thinking about "leaning toward giving the people of Minnesota in that affected industry the chance to decide."
Dayton said he was unwilling to issue a decree that would automatically enroll in-home child care providers into a union. Instead, he said he was leaning towards authorizing a process that would allow the workers to decide the issue.
"I'm talking to all of the parties, including both sides that are for it and against it," Dayton said. "We've talked about having an election that would be conducted by the Bureau of Mediation Services so it would be done fairly and responsibly and in a way that allows all of the people affected by that decision to have a say in it. I'm not going to dictate the outcome of that to child care providers and employees all over the state. If it does proceed, they will be the ones to determine that outcome."
Dayton made his comments after reports surfaced that he was thinking about issuing an executive order to allow in-home child care workers to unionize.
GOP House Speaker Kurt Zellers and Majority Leader Matt Dean also jumped into the fray today. They sent a letter to Gov. Dayton telling him that they don't think he has the authority to do it.
"Private, self-employed home-based child care providers are independent contractors, not public employees nor employers of any single employer. You lack the authority since an executive order purporting to unionize these small businesses would inherently entail lawmaking. Under Article III of our state's constitution, lawmaking is a funtion solely entrusted to the Legislature. And while the Legislature can relinquish a limited delegation of this lawmaking authority to you, no such delegation has occurred."
"Nor is that likely occur in the foreseeable future." [sic]
The letter didn't address whether Zellers or Dean believed Dayton could call an election on the matter. But their spokeswoman said they doubt whether Dayton could even take that step.
Dayton's spokesman said the governor isn't fazed by the letter.
Here's the letter from Zellers and Dean:4 Comments)
DFL Gov. Mark Dayton appears to be growing tired of Republicans who blame him for unpopular pieces of the budget deal that ended the state government shutdown.
Dayton took some verbal swipes at his GOP critics today during a speech before the Eden Prairie Chamber of Commerce. He said the elimination of the market value homestead tax credit, for example, was something he did not agree with as a matter of policy, but he agreed to it in order to reach a budget compromise. Dayton said the GOP leadership insisted on the elimination.
"If you're grown up and you're responsible, you make decisions and you take the responsibility for the consequences of them, good or bad," Dayton said. "I have no respect for somebody who insists on having it their way, and then when it goes awry tries to blame me or anyone else. That's unacceptable."
After the speech, Dayton told reporters that he asked his revenue commissioner, Myron Frans, to look into the homestead credit issue and see what options are available for a remedy.
Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch, R-Buffalo, issued a written statement in response to Dayton's comments. Here it is:
"This year, the Republican-led Legislature passed a complete, reform-minded, balanced budget which didn't raise taxes on Minnesotans and job providers. The largest general fund budget in state history wasn't enough for Governor Dayton. He vetoed our budget and forced the longest government shutdown in recent U.S. history because of an insatiable desire to raise taxes and spend more."
"During Governor Dayton's shutdown, over 22,000 state workers were laid-off, construction projects were unnecessarily halted, and private sector spending was dramatically reduced because Governor Dayton wanted to raise taxes, grow government and spend more without regard for the fiscal realities facing Minnesota. Governor Dayton lecturing about budget responsibility is like Bernie Madoff lecturing about Wall Street reform."