But it may all be eclipsed by this morning's huge global news: Pope Benedict XVI plans to step down -- "the first time in nearly 600 years, a pope is resigning from his post as leader of the Roman Catholic Church," NPR News reports.
Legislators eager to parse Minn. budget bills (MPR News)
Nearly three weeks after he unveiled his two-year budget proposal, Most of Gov. Mark Dayton's tax and spending recommendations have not yet arrived in the House and Senate as bills. Republicans are wondering why.
Paulsen doesn't rule out statewide run (MPR News)
In the past month, U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen has told several people he's not interested in running for Senate - only to have his aides quickly retract those statements. On Friday, he said everything is on the table, including a run for Senate or governor.
Minn. health insurance exchange funding sparks disagreement among DFL (Pioneer Press)
"Tax committee DFLers voted to amend the health exchange bill in the Senate so that operating funds would come from an existing fee on cigarettes. Other DFLers disagree, arguing for a fee on new policies sold through the exchange."
DFL executive director charged with DWI (Star Tribune)
"DFL Party executive director Corey Day has been charged with two counts of driving while intoxicated for a December incident, in which he hit two parked cars. He failed field sobriety tests and was placed under arrest, police said."
Obama to honor Mary Jo Copeland with second-highest civilian honor (Star Tribune)
"Sharing and Caring Hands founder Mary Jo Copeland, who has been providing shelter to Minneapolis' poorest families since 1985, will receive the Presidential Citizens Medal on Friday."
Number of people carrying loaded guns in Capitol spikes (Star Tribune)
"The number of people who have notified authorities they will be carrying loaded weapons in the Capitol has spiked since the DFL-controlled Legislature put gun-control on the agenda, from 56 all of last year to 148 filed in the last month."
Principal's severance payout shows limits of transparency law (Pioneer Press)
"Last spring, 192 state lawmakers voted unanimously to require more transparency when money is paid to a public employee who resigns under fire. But the lawmaker who wrote the legislation now says it didn't go far enough."
State businesses, lawmakers lash out against medical device tax (WCCO)
"Minnesota's medical device makers say a new tax to help pay for the federal health care law could cause cutbacks, and even layoffs. They argue 20 to 25 percent of that tax could be paid by Minnesota companies."
Ex-state Sen. Murphy: Red Wing mayor's sand lobbying job 'troubling' (Red Wing Republican Eagle)
Dennis Egan, "should either immediately resign as mayor of Red Wing or void his contract with the sand mining industry. Not to do so is unethical and a breach of public trust," Steve Murphy, former state senator from Red Wing, writes.
Nolan learns new D.C. mantra is 'Show me the money' (Star Tribune)
"Fresh off a $16 million congressional race, U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan received a not-so-subtle reminder that he is expected to maintain the frenzied fundraising pace that helped him win his northern Minnesota seat."
Bachmann campaign's use of contact list comes under more fire (NBC News)
Obama to renew drive for cuts in nuclear arms (New York Times)
Obama weighing executive moves to counter Congress (Washington Post)
Republican threatens to block Pentagon and C.I.A. nominees (New York Times)(0 Comments)
Gov. Mark Dayton's plan to generate $1.1 billion in new taxes from the state's highest earners the next two years is controversial. Politically, though, it ought to be a pretty easy vote for most of the state's lawmakers.
More than 70 percent of those who would pay the higher income tax are concentrated in the Twin Cities metropolitan area -- overwhelmingly in Hennepin County where most state lawmakers are, like the governor, DFLers.
The map below shows just how concentrated. Mouse over the dots and you'll get the information for that county.
We took county by county data from the governor's proposal and mapped it. These are the returns of people with taxable income above $250,000 for those married and filing jointly, $200,000 for head of household and $150,000 for a single taxpayer.
Six counties -- Cook, Kanabec, Lake of the Woods, Lincoln, Mahnomen and Red Lake -- counted 20 or fewer potential fourth bracketeers. The Revenue Department would not provide an exact count for those counties, so they don't show up on the map.
The data aren't perfect. They show 2010 figures with 41,612 returns from full-year taxpaying residents. Current estimates put the total number of prospective fourth bracket returns at 53,600, thanks mainly to growth in incomes between 2010 and 2013.
Revenue Department researchers, though, say the distribution in the 2010 county data is proportional to the geography of those who would be affected now.
Looking at the map, you'd be hard pressed to find any politician who'd pay much of a political price for supporting the fourth bracket.
While many Republicans might oppose the new tax tier for philosophical reason, they wouldn't suffer much backlash from the fourth bracket voting block.
Poll numbers back that up. A recent KSTP / SurveyUSA poll found 65 percent of Minnesotans back Dayton's proposal for more taxes on the top 2 percent; 30 percent oppose it.
Here's one more way to look at the lopsided spread. In the map below, the reds denote counties with fewer than 300 tax returns that would fall in the new bracket. Yellow is for counties with 300 to 1,000 potentially affected while the green means more than 1,000 fourth bracketeers.
Again, if you're a state lawmaker, you might have serious philosophical and economic concerns about seeking another $1 billion every two years from the state's top 2 percent. Geographically, though, most lawmakers shouldn't have to think twice.
Gov. Mark Dayton gave the strongest indication yet that he intends to help the Mayo Clinic with its expansion plan in Rochester. He made the comments during a speech to an audience of Democrats in Oakdale today.
"How we get there? We have to negotiate," Dayton said. "But do we need to get there? I'm absolutely certain we do."
The Mayo Clinic is lobbying the Legislature for $585 million in taxpayer money to make improvements to Rochester. The Clinic says it needs the public improvements to support its plan to expand in the southeastern Minnesota community. Mayo Clinic officials have pledged to spend more than $3 billion over the next 20 years to expand their Rochester campus. They say they expect more than $2 billion to follow in private investments but say they need the public's help in building things such as roads, parks, transit and other improvements to support the expansion.
The Clinic's plan to finance those improvements would rely on a portion of future money raised from income, sales and corporate tax revenues in Rochester. The legislation would create an economic development authority to determine exactly how the funds are spent.
Several lawmakers expressed concern that the proposal is unprecedented and could lead to many other communities calling for a portion of their tax base be directed to infrastructure improvements.
Dayton said he isn't sure what the final plan will look like, but he said it's important that Mayo's vision of a Destination Medical Center be realized.
"I certainly don't want to see it happen in Arizona or Florida," Dayton said of Mayo's expansion.
DFL Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk says he supports the Mayo Clinic plan in concept but would like to see the city of Rochester and Olmsted County contribute more than $20 million to the plan. DFL House Speaker Paul Thissen says he isn't sure whether there's support for Mayo's plan but said something is likely to get done this year.
The House Jobs and Economic Development Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on the plan on Feb. 19.(1 Comments)