The new state budget forecast comes out this morning Those numbers, crucial to the next steps in passing a state budget, will likely dominate the conversation at the Capitol today.
Hundreds stuck in mental health system, says legislative auditor's report (MPR News)
The failure to discharge patients or provide community housing options may violate patients' legal rights and likely puts the state at risk of lawsuits, audit finds.
Gun rights can be taken away from felons, state Supreme Court rules (Star Tribune)
"The 2nd Amendment grants "law-abiding, responsible" citizens the right to possess a gun in the home for self-defense, but the right can be restricted for felons, justices said in a ruling Wednesday."
As electronic pull-tabs struggle, racino revenue plan resurfaces (MPR News)
With electronic pull tabs slow to catch on, GOP Rep.Tom Hackbarth said he plans to introduce a bill today allowing slot machines at horse tracks in order to bolster state revenue.
GOP group takes Minn. budget fight to radio (Associated Press)
"Five Democratic legislators are the targets of a new radio ad campaign by a Republican outside group seeking to pressure them on tax elements of Gov. Mark Dayton's budget."
Dayton tax plan draws full house at hearing (MPR News)
Hundreds of citizens turned out, many spoke about specific details in Dayton's plan that affected them, their families and their businesses. Those for and against the governor's package appeared equally represented.
House panel to vote today on minimum wage hike (Associated Press)
"The House Labor, Workforce and Regulated Industries Committee is expected to vote on a bill to increase the minimum wage in three steps until it reaches $10.55 in August 2015. After that, wages would automatically rise according to inflation."
Groups rally against Minnesota foreclosures (Star Tribune)
"Legislation, dubbed the "Homeowners' Bill of Rights," would require banks to provide consumers with a single point of contact when faced with a looming foreclosure and establish mediation procedures to help avoid foreclosures."
Public Utilities Commission weighs fate of proposed wind farm (Associated Press)
"The commission holds a hearing today on a wind farm proposed for southeastern Minnesota that's drawn bitter opposition because of the danger it could pose to eagles, other birds and bats."
Rep. Gruenhagen: Homosexuality a 'sexual addiction' (Star Tribune)
"One of the Legislature's most vocal same-sex marriage opponents says homosexuality is a choice and form of sexual addiction. Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen spoke after advocates unveiled their proposal to legalize same-sex marriage."
Voting rights law draws Supreme Court skepticism (New York Times)
Spin on automatic budget cuts races ahead of reality (Washington Post)
White House counts on G.O.P. to bend as cuts' effects are felt (New York Times)
NRA proposal nixed in Kline's school safety hearing
The hearing in the House Education Committee, chaired by 2nd District Republican Rep. John Kline, were marked by a subdued, wonkish tone.
No victims of gun violence or their relatives testified. Instead, a panel of six experts delivered measured testimony about the roles of police assigned to schools, counseling services and mental health programs.
They rejected proposals pushed by the National Rifle Association to place armed police and guards in every school in the country.
So far, Kline has introduced no legislation related to the school shootings and made it clear in his opening remarks that the committee would not move anywhere near as rapidly as the traditionally slow-moving Senate. -- Brett Neely(0 Comments)
State finance officials say Minnesota's projected budget deficit has shrunk to $627 million.
The new February economic forecast from Minnesota Management and Budget shows a $463 million improvement from November, when the projected deficit for 2014 and 2015 was at $1.1 billion.
Better than expected revenues also mean a projected positive balance of $295 million in the current biennium. Under law, $290 million of that balance will go to pay back some of the delayed payments to school districts that were part of previous budget deals. The remaining $5 million in will go into the state's budget reserve. The state will still have $810 million in school shifts to pay back.
DFL Gov. Mark Dayton crafted his two-year tax and spending proposal based on the earlier forecast. He can now make adjustments to reflect the new numbers. House and Senate leaders will also use the latest forecast to set their budget targets. A final budget is expected by mid-May.
A Minnesota House panel has approved a bill that would raise the state's minimum wage from $6.15 to more than $10 an hour by 2015.
Members of the House Labor, Workforce and Regulated Industries Committee voted along party lines today to advance the DFL-sponsored bill. Under the measure, the minimum wage would increase in three steps until reaching $10.55 per hour. Automatic increases based on inflation would take effect after that.
Rep. Ryan Winkler, DFL-Golden Valley, said providing better wages will help boost the state economy.
"You need to have a strong middle class," Winkler said. "You need to have people who work are are able to support themselves and buy things. The economic driver is not just one. It's not just the other. But for too long our policy has focused solely on businesses and the supply side of economics. I think that's the great testament to Ronald Reagan. He made us forget all about the other half of the economy, and we need to start turning that around."
Republicans opposed the bill. They argue the increase will hurt small businesses and leave many low-wage workers without jobs.
Rep. Andrea Kieffer, R-Woodbury, said she believes it's up to individuals to improve their wages, not government.
"When someone gets a job it's up to them to become a good employee," Kieffer said. "And how do you become a good employee? You have a good education. You have a good work ethic, and then you prove yourself in a company and the employer either appreciates you or sometimes you realize you're much better than the employer thinks and you say goodbye and start your own business."
Minnesota's minimum wage was last increased in 2005.(1 Comments)
On Thursday's Policast, we check in on the reaction to proposed tax increases and explore the potential impact of sequestration on schools. We also talk with Capitol reporter Tim Pugmire about the state's newly released budget forecast.0 Comments)
Tax collections from electronic pull-tabs that are supposed to pay for the state's share of a new Vikings stadium are coming in far short of projections.
There were supposed to be 900 locations featuring electronic pull-tabs by Feb. 1, but there are actually only 130, according to the new budget forecast released today.
State finance officials say they now estimate each of those sites will generate about $100 dollars per day. That's less than half of what they originally projected.
Overall gambling revenue will fall $46 million short of earlier projections by 2015, according to the forecast.
Gov. Mark Dayton expressed concern about the projections, but he said he expects significant improvement by this time next year.
"I think everybody made their best attempt to do it and get it right and now we've got to figure out how to correct that so we can make up that difference," Dayton said.
Dayton said he sees no need to reopen stadium negotiations, and said there are fallback revenue sources built into the original legislation, including new lottery games and a surtax on stadium suites.
Officials with the charities that operate electronic pull-tabs say they just need more time to get them up and running.
Minnesota is the first state in the nation to offer electronic pull tabs, noted Allen Lund, executive director of Allied Charities of Minnesota. Lund conceded it's been a "painful process to date," but he predicted an eventual turnaround.
"We're confident that when all the players that want to play-- and there's 10 of them that are now on the sidelines waiting to get approved--the charities will come through and we will show you what we can do," Lund said. "It's far too early in the process to be assigning blame or coming up with plan B's."(0 Comments)