In a statement being distributed by the Republican Party of Minnesota, GOP Senate candidate Kurt Bills states, "In order to defeat Obama and his lieutenant Amy Klobuchar, Republicans of all stripes must stand together. We cannot afford to squabble, and mustn't equivocate. We need to unite--standing on our shared principles--to win in November."
Bills was elected as a Ron Paul delegate to the Republican National Convention, which is slated to begin Monday in Tampa, Fla. Bills is not attending the RNC so he can campaign at the Minnesota State Fair as much as possible.
His "unequivocal support for Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan," is not shared by many other Minnesota delegates, including the chair of the delegation, Marianne Stebbins, who said in an interview recently she's looking forward to voting for Paul at the convention.
Bills won the GOP endorsement for Senate this spring with the backing of Ron Paul. The state convention was dominated by backers of Paul's campaign for president.
In a fundraising email Republican Chris Fields calls 5th District DFL Congressman Keith Ellison's "militantly anti-America" because Ellison sought to cut funding for the Iraq war, among other reasons.
The email reads, in part:
"He attacked the Pledge of Allegiance, voted countless times to throw our troops serving in harm's way to the wolves and teamed up with Barney Frank to destroy the banking industry. Not surprisingly, he's the proud co-chairman of the radical Congressional Progressive Caucus."
Ellison's campaign responded with this statement from campaign manager Will Hailer:
"Chris Fields' divisive, toxic rhetoric is completely out of line with Minnesota values. He continues making statements that seek to divide our communities rather than trying to bring people together.
The people of the Fifth Congressional District have elected Congressman Ellison three times because he has always stood up for America's most basic principle: liberty and justice for all.
Despite Fields' attacks, our campaign will continue focusing on creating prosperity for working families and advocating for policies that improve people's lives."
Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann is no longer interested in having dual US-Swiss citizenship.
Two days after a Swiss TV news crew broke the story that Bachmann sought in February to have her Swiss citizenship registered by Swiss authorities, Bachmann issued the following statement:
"Today I sent a letter to the Swiss Consulate requesting withdrawal of my dual Swiss citizenship, which was conferred upon me by operation of Swiss law when I married my husband in 1978."
"I took this action because I want to make it perfectly clear: I was born in America and I am a proud American citizen. I am, and always have been, 100 percent committed to our United States Constitution and the United States of America. As the daughter of an Air Force veteran, stepdaughter of an Army veteran and sister of a Navy veteran, I am proud of my allegiance to the greatest nation the world has ever known."
Yesterday Bachmann's DFL challenger Jim Graves called news that Bachmann had sought to register her Swiss citizen a "distraction." Graves also noted in a news release that he and his family were "proud to be Americans."
Here is the list from the Pawlenty campaign of the core group that will be helping guide the former Minnesota governor's efforts in the Granite State.
1. John Lyons, who served as Chairman of Gov. Pawlenty's N.H. Freedom First PAC, is Chairman of the State Board of Education, and was Vice Chairman of Sen. John McCain's 2008 N.H. campaign.
2. Cliff Hurst, a Manchester businessman who recently finished his term as Chairman of the Manchester Republican Committee and was co-Chairman of Gov. Huckabee's 2008 N.H. campaign.
3. Bill Cahill, a former New Hampshire state representative and founder and CEO of Cahill Public Affairs, LLC.
4. Harold Turner, president of H.L. Turner Group and also a member of the Board of Directors of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
5. Carissa Means, the Chairperson of the Lebanon Republican Committee and a member of the Lebanon School Board.
6. Bruce Berke, the Treasurer of Pawlenty's N.H. Freedom First PAC and Founding and Managing Partner of Sheehan Phinney Capital Group in Concord.
7. Dave MacLaughlin, former Alderman in Nashua, N.H. and McCain 2008 Nashua City Chair and Alternate Delegate to the National Republican Convention.
8. New Hampshire state Rep. Shaun Doherty, who is serving his second term in the New Hampshire House of Representatives. Doherty served as the New Hampshire Youth Chairman for Sen. John McCain's Presidential campaign.
The Freedom Club PAC paid Sarah Palin $25,000 to host a fundraiser for the conservative group in December. The group reported the appearance fee in campaign finance reports that are due today.
The Freedom Club PAC helps elect Republicans to the Minnesota House. Midge Dean, who organized the fundraiser for the group, declined to say how much they paid Palin when the fundraising invitations went out.
The former Alaska governor and running mate to John McCain in 2008 has been requesting upwards of $100,000 for appearances. The Freedom Club paid Palin through the Washington Speaker's Bureau.
The Freedom Club reports raising $481,500 in 2009.
The Minneapolis City Council and Mineapolis Mayor R.T. announced today that they will join the lawsuit challenging Gov. Pawlenty's unallotment authority. "Minneapolis has done its best to manage the repeated cuts to LGA," said City Council President Barb Johnson in a statement. "But these cuts have put a tremendous burden on our residents in the form of higher property taxes."
The League of Minnesota Cities and the city of St. Paul have also indicated that they'll file briefs opposing Pawlenty's unallotment.
You can read more about the decision here.(1 Comments)
The Alliance for a Better Minnesota is running web ads criticizing Governor Pawlenty and Republican Reps. Marty Seifert, Tom Emmer and Kurt Zellers for scaling back the renter's credit in Minnesota. The ad banner, which is on the top of the National Review's blog right now, says "Tim Pawlenty and the GOP stole money from renters."
The weblink sends you to a website that determines how much money renters may lose under the action. It also allows viewers to contact their lawmakers to fix the problem.
The full website, Return My Rebate, says Pawlenty and other Republicans "stole over $50 million from renters in Minnesota when they slashed the renters' credit over the summer. They are forcing over 300,000 working Minnesotans to get by with a greater financial burden in a tougher economic climate than ever before."
Pawlenty scaled back the size of the renter's credit from 19 percent to 15 percent when he unilaterally cut the budget in July. He took the action after he failed to reach a budget deal with Democrats in control of the Legislature.
Denise Cardinal, with the Alliance for a Better Minnesota, said they decided to start the campaign after several of her younger staffers complained about the reduction in the credit.
"We're trying to make the point that this was money that was taken," Cardinal said. "That's real money that going into the communities."
Cardinal said the ads started running earlier this week. She said her group is also targeting Seifert, Emmer and Zellers because they support the governor's action. Seifert and Emmer are both running for governor.
I contacted Pawlenty's spokesman for a comment and haven't heard back from him. I'll post his reply when I do.
From MPR's Elizabeth Baier:
The Minnesota GOP will retain its seat of nearly two decades in District 26, after voters elected Republican Mike Parry on Tuesday. Parry won the special election to fill the seat of longtime State Senator Dick Day. He beat DFL-endorsed Jason Engbrecht and Independence Party candidate Roy Srp.
Parry says he's ready to start working on balancing the state budget and creating jobs.
"I'm feeling really good. The citizens of District 26 who have talked to me and have told me they wanted to control state spending and wanted to make sure that the funds that we are generating are used in the proper way, and that's been my message straightforward."
Parry will fill the remaining 11 months of Dick Day's term for the seat that covers parts of Rice, Steele and Waseca counties.
The State Canvassing Board will meet on Feb. 1 to certify the results of the special election.
With 100% of the precincts reporting, here's the vote count:
DFLer Jason Engbrecht: 4,192
I-P member Roy Srp: 2,334
Democrat Jason Engbrecht leads his challengers in the race to fill a MN Senate seat that was left vacant after GOP Sen. Dick Day retired to become a lobbyist.
Engbrecht's campaign finance report says he raised $20,645 and has $16,654 left in the bank. The DFL Party also gave Engbrecht a $1,000 contribution since the papers were filed.
Republican Mike Parry's report says he raised $16,961 and has $8606 left in the bank. Parry reports receiving two contributions that total $950 since he filed his report.
Independence Party candidate Roy Srp reports raising $4602 and has $4432 in the bank.
The race has attracted attention from other candidates.
DFL Sen. Al Franken campaigned for Engrbrecht last weekend. Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak will campaign for him on Sunday. MN House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher will stop in at one of Engbrecht's phone banks in Owantonna on Friday to visit with volunteers on her way to the Mankato debate.
Governor Pawlenty will campaign for Parry tonight. Two GOP candidates also campaigned for Parry. GOP state Rep. Tom Emmer campaigned with him on Saturday. GOP state Rep. Marty Seifert is door knocking for Parry today.
Former DFL Congressman Tim Penny and Former U.S. Sen. Dean Barkley raised money for Srp on January 9th.
The special election will be held on January 26th.
From MPR's Tom Weber:
300 school districts and more than 100 charter schools across Minnesota have signed on to a bid by the state to win federal stimulus dollars.
The Race to the Top funding will go to states that showcase the best efforts to improve education. Forty states applied this week.
In Minnesota, districts that sign on will also have to try to enact the merit pay program called Q-Comp... which the state's teachers union Education Minnesota has criticized.
But Education Commissioner Alice Seagren says Q-Comp fit what the feds were looking for - so it was logical to include it:
"I think at the national level, what people are focused on is President Obama and Secretary Duncan's insistence that there be some linkage between the individual student and the achievement of their children. We have to meet that criteria for Race to the Top; that's one of the non-negotiables."
States will find out in April if they've won the money - Minnesota is vying for 330-million dollars over four years.
The Minnesota Supreme Court granted Gov. Pawlenty's motion to take quick action on his appeal of a legal order that undermines his unallotment authority. Here are the important dates:
The court scheduled oral arguments for 3/15 (Ides of March!!!)
Pawlenty has to file his appeal by 2/9.
Plaintiffs have to file their response by 2/23.
Pawlenty can file a reply brief no later than 3/2
Gov. Pawlenty released his bonding bill recommendations earlier today (watch video from the first portion of his news conference above). He's proposing $685 million in state bonding for public works building projects. He called his bill "austere" and said it prioritized the state's needs.
"The idea that we can just endlessly spend is out the window. You have to prioritize and you have to focus and you have to be willing to say no."
But DFL Rep. Alice Hausman of St. Paul said she thinks the bonding bill should be $1 billion, especially since there are low interest rates a it's cheaper to build right now.
"Our taxpayer dollar will go farther this year than if we wait two years for these projects. That resonates with everyone."
Pawlenty also said the state has reached a deal to buy land on Lake Vermilion from U.S. Steel but that plan needs legislative approval to lift a cap on the purchase price. If they don't get approval, Pawlenty said U.S. Steel is prepared to move forward with their development plans this summer.
Attorneys for Governor Pawlenty is asking the Minnesota Supreme Court to take quick action on their appeal of a ruling that undercuts Pawlenty's unallotment authority. The appeal isn't a surprise since Pawlenty announced he would do it one day after a Ramsey County District Court Judge ruled he abused his authority to unilaterally cut spending. At the time, the judge ordered the restoration of funding for a special diet program for low income Minnesotans and suggested other parties affected by Pawlenty's use of unallotment could join the suit.
Pawlenty said the judge misinterpreted the law and is asking the Minnesota Supreme Court to immediately take up his appeal. The appeal says quick action is needed because it impacts Governor Pawlenty's decision in July to make $2.7 billion in unilateral budget cuts.
"Given its magnitude, the deficit in the state's biennial budget becomes increasingly difficult to resolve as time passes and less of the biennium remains."
Pawlenty's appeal also requests the Court of Appeals to expedite the case if the Minnesota Supreme Court declines to act quickly on it.
Here are three key parts of the appeal.
A Ramsey County judge has dismissed a case challenging Governor Pawlenty's unallotment authority.
This ruling is separate from a December decision that undercut Governor Pawlenty's authority to unilaterally cut spending. Judge Kathleen Gearin is the judge in both cases but her decisions are different, mostly because the plaintiffs made different arguments. In the case that restored funding for a special diet program, attorneys argued that Pawlenty overstepped his authority as governor. Judge Gearin agreed and ruled that Pawlenty crossed the line that separates the governor's power from the Legislature's.
Gearin said attorneys in the second case fighting for the restoration of a political contribution refund made a different argument. They said Pawlenty couldn't cut the tax refund. Judge Gearin disagreed. The governor's office praised Gearin's most recent ruling. Pawlenty plans to appeal her earlier ruling.
A new report indicates Minnnesota's economy may have bottomed out.
The report, released by the state's budget office, says Minnesota's tax collections were one and a half million dollars lower than projected in November and December. But the report says the national recession is over, real gross domestic product is growing, the credit markets are loosening and consumer spending is increasing. The report says even dismal job numbers are "giving some tentative signals that a recovery is on the way."
The report said the economic conditions won't be as bad this year as 2009, but warned that economic conditions still aren't expected to return to normal this year. The report projected the nation's unemployment rate will continue to be above 10 percent for the year.
The report does not mean the state's budget problems are solved. Minnesota is running a deficit of $1.2 billion.
Mike Parry, the Republican backed candidate in Minnesota Senate District 26, is apologizing for his past tweets. Parry wrote on his twitter account that President Obama was "a power hungry arrogant black man." He later deleted the tweet.
Parry released the statement just minutes before DFL Party Chair Brian Melendez was set to hold a news conference criticizing Parry.
Here's Parry's statement:
"I sincerely apologize for past tweets which were written in haste and out of the frustration I felt for the out of control spending in Washington. Given the fragile state of our economy and the kind of out of control and wasteful spending we're seeing from Democrats, the people of Senate District 26 must have an election about the future. While volunteers to my campaign removed several tweets without my knowledge, I take full responsibility for all mistakes in my past tweets. I will never stop fighting to make the lives of all Minnesotans better."
DFL Party Chair Brian Melendez said Parry needs to be more specific and wants answers as to whether he wrote the comments and later deleted them:
"He admitted that he made the one about President Obama and he apologized for that. Ok, fine. But what about the one linking Democrats to pedophiles? Why were 33 tweets scrubbed? Is he referring to all 33 of them and does he now admit that they are all his? If he does then that apology means something but the way the apology is written, it's vague and ambiguous and you can't tell what he's talking about."
Here's the DFL newser: Listen
Parry is running to replace Republican Dick Day who is leaving the Senate to become a lobbyist. The DFL candidate is Jason Engbrecht and Roy Srp is the Independence Party candidate. The special election will be held on January 26th.(1 Comments)
DFL Senate Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller said on MPR's Midday today that he would like to see Gov. Pawlenty deliver a budget address to the Minnesota Legislature. Pogemiller said he wants Pawlenty to appear before the Legislature to map out a direction on the budget before the legislative session begins next month.
The state faces a $1.2 billion dollar deficit and Pogemiller says lawmakers need to find a fix both DFLers and Republicans can agree on. The governor isn't running for re-election, and Pogemiller says he can provide leadership on the budget:
"I don't mean a State of the State, I mean a budget address on what his direction for the state is to solve this $5.4 or $8 billion budget deficit in the future. In his last year in office he could really serve the state well by stepping up, making some tough choices and trying to lead us to a balanced budget."
Pawlenty spokesman Brian McClung rejected the idea in an e-mail:
"We plan to prepare supplemental budget recommendations and release them as we have in years past with a document and press conference. The Governor will also generally address the budget during his State of the State Address. We haven't yet finalized a date or location for that speech."
DFLers also rejected Pawlenty's idea to quickly ratify a $1.8 billion payment delay to K12 schools. Pawlenty said in a letter to legislative leaders that he would like lawmakers to codify the cut he made during his unallotment. He suggested that he could call a one day special session to enact the school payment shift. DFL House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher said a special session is unlikely:
"We're going to be in session in less than thirty days here. That is an important marker for Minnesotans. In fact, a lot of th eother unallotments the governor made in his decision making and the veto of basic medical care, general assistance medicare care, are far more pressing issues for the immediacy of how they affect Minnesotans lives."
Pawlenty and legislative leaders are also scheduled to meet sometime this week to discuss the budget. No time or location has been set yet. Update: Pawlenty spokesman Brian McClung says Pawlenty will meet with legislative leaders on Friday afternoon in the governor's office.
Listen to full Midday here:
Governor Pawlenty says he plans to appeal a judge's ruling that restores funding for a $5.3 million food program that he cut earlier this year. A Ramsey County judge ruled yesterday that Pawlenty overstepped his legal authority by unilaterally cutting money for the program. The ruling only affects the program but could have broader implications on the state budget. Pawlenty said this morning that the judge misapplied and misinterpreted the law:
"At worst, the statute is unclear in a few respects and the judge could have avoided weighing into this situation by indicating that the statute is unclear and directing or suggesting recommending that the Legislature and governor clarify the statute. Instead, she has now inserted herself, the judge has inserted herself into the middle of a political dispute."
Pawlenty said he will ask Democrats who control the Legislature to agree to formalize a $1.7 billion delay in payments to schools. He also didn't rule out making additional cuts on his own to resolve the state's ongoing budget problems.
Here's the video of the first portion of his news conference:
Here's the q and a with reporters (I apologize that you can't hear the questions):
Update: DFL House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher, who is also running for governor, said she isn't surprised Pawlenty is appealing the ruling. But she said it will be problamatic if Pawlenty won't agree to tax increases to balance the budget:
"I think it's going to be difficult all around if that's going to be the governor's position. If he's going to stay stuck in a ditch in deep snow, spinning his tires on something that is not going to move the state forward."
Here's my interview with her: Listen
GOP House Minority Leader Kurt Zellers praised Pawlenty for appealing the decision. He predicted a difficult session if Democrats in the Legislature don't stop pushing tax increases:
"We are in this position because of failed leadership by the DFL in the 2009 Legislative Session and their inability to produce a fiscally responsible budget. We should be using the 2010 session to improve Minnesota's job climate and expand economic opportunity, but now it appears we will still have to deal with the budget problems Democrats were unwilling and unable to address last session," said Zellers in a news release.
Here's my interview with him: Listen
Update: A spokesman for Senate DFLers declined comment and declined to make anyone else available on Pawlenty's statement because they haven't received anything in writing from Pawlenty and didn't see his news conference.
Update: Here's the text of Pawlenty's letter to DFL legislative leaders:
As I mentioned in my press conference earlier today, I am recommending that the legislature enact and that I sign into law the school payment deferral already in operation for FY 2010-2011. The legislature has previously expressed support for this deferral, and I am therefore optimistic that we can reach an agreement.(2 Comments)
While any agreement between us could be enacted during the regular legislative session, judicial direction may impose a greater sense of urgency requiring earlier action. If such circumstances arise, I am willing to consider calling a brief special session strictly limited to this issue if we can reach a prior agreement.
Your prompt response to this request would be appreciated in light of the acute fiscal crisis the state faces.
In the meantime, Chris DeLaForest, my Director of Legislative and Cabinet Affairs, will be contacting your office to arrange a meeting to discuss these matters further.
Rep. Marty Seifert (R-Marshall), former minority leader in the Minnesota House of Representatives and candidate for governor, Sen. Tarryl Clark (DFL-St. Cloud), assistant majority leader and candidate for Congress, David Lillehaug (LIL-luh-howg), former Minnesota U.S. attorney and Senator Julianne Ortman (R-Chanhassen) will be on MPR's Midmorning at 10 to discuss the judge's ruling on unallotment.
Ramsey County District Court Judge Kathleen Gearin has issued a Temporary Restraining Order in a case challenging Gov. Pawlenty's unallotment authority. Gearin ordered the TRO to be retroactive to November 1st and ordered MMB's Commissioner to reinstate the cuts to the special diet program. A hearing is scheduled for March 10th. You can read the full order here.
Galen Robinson, who is representing six people who were no longer eligible for the special diet program, told MPR News that the decision is a huge victory:
"We're just relieved that our clients will be able to purchase the food that they need to stay healthy going forward."
Gov. Pawlenty issued this statement on the decision:
"We are disappointed in the judge's decision. We are weighing all of our options including appeal, reestablishing unallotments under the current forecast, potential legislative action, and other options."
DFL House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher told MPR News that "It really validates that there was an overreach of executive power in the governor's action in the last legislative session." Here's her full statement:
Today's ruling represents a victory for all Minnesotans concerned about the overreach of executive authority. I applaud Judge Gearin's order and look forward to a full hearing on this case early next year. As I said earlier, this is an important case about the separation of powers in state government. The legislative and executive branches of government need to be equal partners in addressing Minnesota's budget crisis.(1 Comments)
Mike Parry, the GOP endorsed candidate running to replace GOP state Sen. Dick Day, says he does not support tax increases of any kind to balance the state's budget. Parry said state lawmakers need to reduce spending to erase a projected 1.2 billion dollar deficit:
"You cannot keep adding and adding and taxing. Because sooner or later the pool of money will be completely gone and then what do you do? So as in business when things get tight you take a look at every possible corner to cut to survive. And right now our state needs to survive."
Parry didn't offer specifics on where he would cut spending. He instead used the generic term "look at every portion of the state budget" when asked what cuts were on the table. When pressed, he did suggest that welfare spending is an option. Parry also said he supports adding slot machines at the state's two horse tracks. That measure is supported by Day, who is leaving his position to become a lobbyist for Racino.
Listen to my interview with Parry here: Listen
Senate District 26 Democrats yesterday endorsed St. Olaf College instructor Jason Engbrecht. Three-term Waseca Mayor Roy Srp is running on the Independence Party ticket. The special election will be held Jan. 26.
The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce says Gov. Pawlenty will address the organization's Session Priorities dinner on Thursday, February 4th. Pawlenty will give a speech at 6:45. There will be a legislative roundtable later that evening.
There has been speculation that Gov. Pawlenty would use the dinner as his State of the State speech. An official with the Minnesota Chamber said "it's under consideration."
Pawlenty spokesman Brian McClung issued this written statement when asked whether about the prospects of Pawlenty using the Chamber dinner as his annual State of the State:
"The governor is booked to speak at the Minnesota Chamber dinner on Feb. 4. He is considering delivering the State of the State Address at that time, but a final decision hasn't been made."
The event is held on the same day lawmakers convene the 2010 Legislative session.
DFL activists endorsed St. Olaf College Physics Professor Jason Engbrecht in the race to replace retiring GOP state Sen. Dick Day. Engbrecht, who is on the Faribault School Board, said he's focused on job creation, education and health care. When it comes to the state's budget problem, he said revenue and spending cuts need to both be on the table.
"As a scientist, I had to learn to accept the way the universe is and try to study it for what it is. And that's the approach we need to take when looking at our finances at the state level right now. There's a harsh reality that needs to be faced and the simple is that we can't fix the problem by raising taxes by itself. We can't fix the problem by making cuts by itself."
Engbrecht said he was in favor of "across the board" spending cuts but didn't specify a preference on how he would raise revenue/taxes.
He did make a hiccup on the issue of unemployment. He mistakenly said the state's unemployment rate is higher than the national average. That's incorrect. The national average is 10 percent. Minnesota's unemployment rate is 7.4 percent.
You can listen to my interview with him here: Listen
Side Note: Since Day is leaving his position to become a lobbyist for Racino, I called Engbrecht back to ask if he supported adding slot machines to the state's two horse tracks. He said he had "no opinion" on it but was willing to take a look at it. He added that it wasn't a key concern for his constituents.
I'm waiting for a call back from Mike Parry, the GOP endorsed candidate in SD26. I'll post the interview if/when he calls me back.
The Special Election is scheduled for January 26th. Waseca Mayor Roy Srp is also running as a member of the Independence Party.
Waseca Mayor Roy Srp has jumped in the race to replace GOP state Sen. Dick Day, who's vacating his seat to become a lobbyist. Srp, who ran for the Minnesota House as a Democrat in 1996, said he joined the Independence Party in 1997. He filed his paperwork this morning and said he has the endorsement of the party.
Srp said he would like to cut state spending and avoid tax increases to balance the state's budget. He also criticized the state's other major parties for not solving Minnesota's long-running budget problems.
"The Democrats and the Republicans are responsible for where we're at now financially. We have to start somewhere to correct that. We tried to do that with changing the Democrats to the Republicans and changing the Republicans to the Democrats and it just continues to fail." Full q and a here: Listen
An official helping worganize on the DFL side said Jason Engbrecht, a St. Olaf professor and Faribault School Board member, is the only candidate currently seeking the endorsement. Local party activists will endorse on Monday night.
Meanwhile, there are five GOP candidates running. The Waseca County News lists them in today's story:
Waseca businessman Mike Parry, Owatonna Mayor Tom Kuntz, Faribault City Council member Steven Underdahl, Faribault businesswoman Teri Menard, and Ted Boosalis, the former owner of Costa's Chocolates in Owatonna. There may be more candidates who have yet to come out of the woodwork, said David Thul, the co-chair of Steele County Republicans.
Thul said another possible Republican candidate had told party leaders he would throw his hat in, though he had yet to make a public announcement.
A MNGOP staffer says the party will endorse a candidate on Monday night in Faribault.
The special election is scheduled for January 26th.
Side Note: For those wondering, I'll post interviews with the GOP and DFL candidates once they win the endorsement.
Sports Illustrated columnist Peter King wrote a bit about the prospects of a new Vikings stadium in his Monday Morning Quarterback column (a must read for NFL lovers). In it, King downplayed chances of a Vikings stadium getting funded with taxpayer funding this year:
14. Stadium blues in Minnesota. Want to know why the Minnesota Vikings have a tough fight on their hands to get a new stadium built? Politics. And one of the biggest budget deficits in the United States.
For the first time in more than 20 years in Minnesota, the governor, lieutenant governor, 134 state representatives and 67 state senators will all be up for election in the same year, 2010, without a presidential or U.S. Senate election next November. That means the focus of the entire state will be on the state, not divided between Washington and Minnesota. Those 203 politicians are in no mood to foot much of the bill for a new sporting venue.
The state has just overseen the opening this fall of the new 50,000-seat stadium on the campus of the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, and the Twins' new Target Field will open downtown next April. Combined total of those two projects: $578 million. The state is projecting a $1.2-billion budget deficit next year. Add all those factors together, and you understand how tough it's going to be for the Vikings to get a new stadium anytime soon.
I don't think it'll be in 2010, which will raise the threat level of a franchise shift to Los Angele to orange. When, or if, they do build, I can tell you that people on the football side -- players, coaches -- aren't crazy about an open-air stadium. A retractable roof would add about $200 million to the cost; a fixed roof would add about $125,000. It'll be a homefield edge at this time of year, but that doesn't mean the locals used to playing inside and sitting inside for the past 28 football seasons want to go back to playing in the elements.
I was at the Vikings facility Thursday, and it was minus-1 with a wind-chill of minus-12 at 11 in the morning. As one player told me, "A whole generation of fans grew up without ever sitting outside to watch the Vikings. What's it been, 30 years? How are you going to get all those people used to being warm for a game to sit outside when it's below zero?'' Good question. But the Vikings would be happy to get any new stadium, inside or outside.
Here's a key question: If King can offer this analysis after dropping in to speak to the Vikings, why can't the media outlets that are going full throttle on this issue?(4 Comments)
DFL state Rep. Kate Knuth of New Brighton and DFL state Rep. Jeremy Kalin of North Branch are in Copenhagen, Denmark for The UN Climate Change Conference. In a news release, the two say they're hoping to urge members of Congress to start investing in renewable energy.
Knuth is traveling as a policy mentor to the Will Steger Foundation and will be a presenter at two events, including a panel discussion organized by the White House on December 17th. Kalin is the national chair of Coalition of Legislators for Energy Action Now.
"It is an honor to be participating in the world's most important and anticipated Climate Change Conference," said Rep. Knuth in a news release. "I look forward to being part of an historic event that will move us to a cleaner and more sustainable energy future, and sharing the bold steps we've already taken in Minnesota with the world."
While DFLers in control of the House are touting the trip, Republicans are having fun with it. House GOP spokesman Kevin Watterson issued this statement on his Twitter feed:
No @mnhousegop members are in Coppenhagen perpetuating climate fraud. We work to keep energy costs & taxes DOWN for families & employers.
Governor Pawlenty's spokesman, Brian McClung, said it's unlikely that Pawlenty will unilaterally cut any state spending between now and the 2010 Legislative Session which begins in February. McClung said any cuts through the process known as unallotment are unlikely now that Pawlenty decided against withholding $437 million in aid payments to cities and counties:
"The governor has said all along that his preference is to work with the Legislature to resolve the budget deficit. The governor is not intending to use his unallotment authority between now and the state of the legislative session barring any unforeseen circustances."
One major factor could be the two lawsuits challenging Gov. Pawlenty's unallotment authority. A Ramsey County District Court judge is currently considering two lawsuits that argue Pawlenty exceeded his authority when he slashed $2.7 billion on his own in July.
As for the current budget shortfall, McClung reitterated Pawlenty's call for state lawmakers to begin holding committee hearings to address the state's $1.2 billion budget deficit. Pawlenty hopes lawmakers can address the budget deficit immediately when they return to the State Capitol in February.
Meanwhile, city officials are breathing a sigh of relief. Gary Carlson, a lobbyist with the League of Minnesota Cities, said he's pleased that Pawlenty didn't cut state aid to cities. He is, however, worried the cuts will come next year:
"His announcement today just simply means that we have a $1.2 billion deficit that's going to have to be addressed by the Legislature when they convene in February. We're not out of the woods yet by any meants but at least we have a bit of certainty as we set our local budgets for the 2010 year."
Lawmakers return for the 2010 session on February 4th.
Gov. Pawlenty issued a news release saying he will not cut aid to local governments this month. Many city officials were concerned that a cut to Local Government Aid payments would lead to service cuts and increase property taxes. Pawlenty sent this letter to city and county officials. Here's the release from Pawlenty's office:
GOVERNOR PAWLENTY ANNOUNCES DECEMBER LOCAL AID PAYMENTS WILL NOT BE UNALLOTED(1 Comments)
~ In letter to city and county leaders, Governor says future payments could be reduced ~
Saint Paul - Governor Tim Pawlenty today wrote to city and county leaders to inform them he does not intend to take executive action to reduce local aid payments later this month.
Last week, state budget officials announced a $1.2 billion deficit for the current two-year budget period. Governor Pawlenty stated he will work with the legislature to resolve the shortfall, but had said because of the timing of payments, that a portion of the December local aid payments could be unalloted.
In his letter, Governor Pawlenty said, "Given the imminent expected payment of December local aid, I have determined that additional local aid program cuts, if any, should be focused on future payments." The Governor noted that if the legislature is unable to pass appropriate budget reductions, future aid payments would likely be reduced.
Approximately $437 million in local aid payments are scheduled to be sent to cities and counties later this month. Those payments include local government aid (LGA), county program aid (CPA), market value homestead credits (MVHC) and other local aid programs. LGA and CPA payments are delivered in two separate payments in July and December. MVHC payments are sent out in October and December.
Funding totals for those programs in 2009 were:
· Local government aid (to cities): $481.5 million
· County program aid (to counties): $194.9 million
· Market value homestead credits (to cities, counties and townships to reduce property taxes): $197.1 million
Approximately 45 percent of the state's population, 2.4 million Minnesotans, lives in communities that receive no LGA payments. In 2009, 92 cities with a combined population of nearly 1.4 million people and the state's townships, with 980,000 residents, received no LGA.
Governor Pawlenty has requested that legislative leaders start committee hearings immediately to craft budget reductions that could be enacted promptly at the beginning of the legislative session that gets underway on February 4, 2010. The Governor has also ordered state government agencies to begin holding back a portion of their spending for possible cuts.
House and Senate DFLers say they want to address the state's budget problems over the long-term. DFL Senate Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller and DFL House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher didn't offer specifics but say the state needs a greater focus on job creation. Here are the opening statements from Pogemiller and Kelliher:
Gov. Pawlenty said he will rely on only spending cuts to erase a projected $1.2 billion budget deficit in the current biennium. He also said he may unallot again -- aid to local governments -- before the end of the year. Here's the video of his opening statement:
The Minnesota Association of Professional Employees is urging Gov. Pawlenty to put his presidential aspirations on hold. In a news release, MAPE executive director Jim Monroe says Pawlenty should do the job he's elected to do:
"Once again, the dire economic news released today paints a very bleak picture for the people of Minnesota.
"Last May, MAPE outlined millions of dollars in waste that included out-of-state travel, uncollected revenue and the Pawlenty Administration's bloated management. The result of MAPE shining the light on certain administration practices was $10 million trimmed from out-of-state travel and the Department of Revenue stepping up collection efforts on money owed to our state. These are positive steps, but more action is needed to cut waste to preserve vital services for Minnesotans.
"Governor Pawlenty, with Minnesota facing a $1.2 billion state budget deficit for the remainder of this biennium, we ask that you put your presidential aspirations on hold, focus on the job you were elected to perform, sit down with us and work together to resolve the state's ongoing economic crisis."
Side note: Pawlenty is out of the state tomorrow. He's travelling to Michigan to attend a prayer breakfast. He'll be in Chicago to attend a fundraiser for his PAC.(1 Comments)
We're expecting the candidates for governor to react to Minnesota's bad budget news
The first news release is from former U.S. Sen. Mark Dayton. We'll post the others in the space as they come in.
Here's Dayton's statement:
Continuing State Deficits Caused by Failed State Leadership
DFL Gubernatorial candidate Mark Dayton said today, "Minnesota's new budget deficit is further evidence that our state is in crisis. Partly, it is caused by the national economic crisis, which President Obama inherited. However, Minnesota's crisis is also the result of failed state policies.
"Our state's economy used to perform better than the rest of the country during both good and bad economic times. Yet, in recent years, Minnesota has consistently ranked in the bottom ten states in employment growth. Over 220,000 Minnesotans are unemployed today. More than 100,000 of them lost their jobs this year. These economic failures have turned previous fiscal challenges into the current, continuing state budget crises.
"Governor Pawlenty attacked last summer's deficit unfairly. I would solve this one fairly, by raising taxes on the wealthiest 10% of Minnesotans, who the Governor's own Revenue Department reports are paying only 3/4ths of their proportionate share of state and local taxes.
"It is imperative that Governor Pawlenty place the best interests of the people of Minnesota ahead of his own Presidential ambitions. He can show leadership and political courage by doing what is necessary an right: raise taxes on the rich."
Statement from Democrat Matt Entenza:
"Today's announcement about Minnesota's budget deficit was not unexpected - difficult to hear, but not unexpected. The truth is we'll never be able to fix our budget problem until we fix our economy problem. We can't tax our way out of this nor cut our way out of it; we must grow our way out of it. That's why my main focus is on growing Minnesota's economy. I believe Minnesota can become the Silicon Valley of clean energy. We should be installing and manufacturing thousands of new wind turbines, pushing energy conservation and leading in the next generation of biomass. Doing this will create thousands of new jobs and economic opportunity in every corner of Minnesota."
Statement from Democrat Paul Thissen:
What I find most troubling about the budget forecast is the story it tells about what is happening outside the walls of the state Capitol. Thousands of Minnesota families are just not making it and that is what we need to keep our eye on as elected leaders.
We have ignored the bottom line of Minnesota families for too long. As we now move to rebuilding our state, we need to learn that lesson and prioritize basic economic security issues.
Now is a time for action.If I were governor, I would call the legislature into special session immediately because the longer we wait, the worse the pain will be for Minnesota families.
Statement from DFLer Steve Kelley:
Under Tim Pawlenty's leadership, Minnesota's budget forecasts have been in the hole ten times. Pawlenty has sacrificed our long-term economic stability for short-term gimmicks.
Our state budget is how we live our values. It puts 290,000 Minnesotans to work. Teachers, nurses, police, firefighters, and thousands more depend on a balanced state budget to provide for their families. Another round of unallotment will undoubtedly mean layoffs, greater unemployment, and more struggling families. Minnesotans ought to demand an accounting of the jobs that will be lost from unallotment or any budget solution.
This forecast is an indictment of the Minnesota Republican economic philosophy. It's time to restore fiscal responsibility and long-term economic prosperity to our state.
Statement from DFLer Margaret Anderson Kelliher:
Today economists delivered a grim financial forecast - we face yet another budget deficit. This on-going budget crisis must be resolved. It is time for Minnesota to break this cycle. We need a Governor who will level with Minnesotans. We need a Governor who does not rely on cu ts alone to balance the budget. Solving our current economic shortfall and creating economic security will take a balanced approach and require the right mix of spending cuts and revenue increases.
Today's budget forecast is a reminder that Governor Pawlenty's unallotment did not balance Minnesota's two-year budget. It was a quick political fix that solved nothing. Governor Pawlenty, Rep. Seifert and the House Republicans chose politics over the best interest of Minnesotans. I will be a very different kind of Governor.
The next session is going to be a challenge. Focused on his national ambitions, Governor Pawlenty appears determined to keep his "no new taxes" pledge regardless of the toll it takes on the people of Minnesota. However, our challenges can become new opportunities. With bold new leadership in 2011 and beyond, we can take the opportunity to reform the way Minnesota does business by implementing an economic development plan that will create jobs and improve our economy, balance our budget, and invest in education and health care.
To make these opportunities a reality, Minnesota needs a proven leader. The next Governor will have only twelve weeks from the day she is elected to propose a full budget, with progressive tax reform. Minnesota needs a leader who has stood up and fought for what is best for our state---someone who understands the difficulties Minnesotans face, and who will bring people together to create long term solutions and secure our future.
I have a track record of bringing people together to solve problems and resolve issues. I've taken on the partisan forces in state government and won. After the 35W bridge collapse, Governor Pawlenty told me he would never sign a transportation reform bill. I knew what I needed to do: I brought together a broad coalition that worked together to make Minnesota's roads and bridges safer, and we overrode the governor's veto.
In the 2010 election, we have the chance to work together again and ensure that Minnesota has the Governor it deserves. It will take another broad, strong and diverse coalition and I need you to be part of that effort.
Please join me in this campaign. Become part of the coalition by visiting my website and signing up as a Grassroots Endorser. You can also sign up to join our team of amazing volunteers and pledge to caucus for me on February 2, 2010. I also hope you will consider m aking a financial investment in the campaign - your contribution of $50, $100 or $250 will help build a people-powered campaign to identify caucus attendees and allow me to bring the message about my candidacy to Minnesotans in every corner of our state.
Here's a statement from Democrat Tom Rukavina:
"The bad news in the budget forecast yesterday was not unexpected for most of us. When you try to deceive the public with Enron accounting gimmicks, it eventually catches up to you. It caught up to Tim Pawlenty and now all of us have to pull together to fix this nightmare.
We have used up all the available pots of money like tobacco settlements, health care accounts, workers compensation surpluses and special funds to try and keep Pawlenty's dishonest "no new tax" pledge. As a result of this, we now have to resort to stealing reserve money from college students, passing property tax increases, shifting school payments, and issuing 10,000 seat belt violations in a two week period to raise money.
The bottom line is that the middle class gets hammered again. I am running for governor to put an end to all this and bring sanity back to state budgeting.
We need to stop the gimmicks and get back to a balanced budget by raising taxes fairly through income taxes based on ability to pay. We have the biggest debt per capita in the country. People are losing their jobs and homes and our Governor is going on vacation in South America.
We need a jobs program that gets people back to work so they can prosper and help put our economy back on track. I have a proven track record of creating jobs, putting more money in working people's pockets. Raising taxes in a fair manner that doesn't cripple the middle class should be our goal.
I want to be your Governor because I love this state and I am disgusted that in his eight years as governor and four years as majority leader, Tim Pawlenty has taken this state from having a $6 billion surplus to having an $8 billion deficit. He has jeopardized the future of our kids in exchange for his political future.
Hey, maybe Minnesota is better off with him out of state 29 times since June while he is running for President. I've never liked one-way tickets, but it may be a good investment for our state if Tim Pawlenty gets one for his trip to South America."
Statement from Republican Tom Emmer:
Rep. Tom Emmer, Republican candidate for governor, spoke out Wednesday on the state's projected $1.2 billion deficit. Emmer has offered legislation which would require the legislature to balance the state budget before any new spending is proposed.
"My bill, First Things First, would require the legislature to address any budget shortfall before any new spending is added to the taxpayers' burden." Emmer said, "This bill would force the big spenders in St. Paul to focus on fixing the problem before they add to it."
Emmer expressed hope that in the next legislative session the majority party would be more willing to take his common sense proposal seriously.
"I authored the same bill last session and the Democrat leadership wouldn't even allow a vote on it. With business and family budgets at a breaking point, it only makes sense that we pass this bill into law this time around."
At a time when Minnesotans are struggling, Rep. Emmer believes that to stimulate the economy and encourage job creation, the state government should act responsibly and not overburden Minnesotans and job creators.
"We will get out of this recession faster if Minnesota's people and businesses are allowed to flourish. It is a mistake to think that government can lead the way with big government, Obama-style pork programs."
Emmer stressed that creating an environment where business and free enterprise can flourish will solve the budget crisis by encouraging the creation of desperately needed private-sector jobs.
"This deficit puts into focus the importance of electing a governor who is serious about reigning in the growth of state government spending and fostering the expansion of private enterprise," said Emmer.
"We got into debt by driving away jobs and the businesses through high taxes and stifling regulations. Minnesota needs a governor who understands that freedom and private enterprise are the engines that drive Minnesota, not a bloated state government."
A report from the state budget department says the state is deep in red ink for the 2010-2011 budget cycle. The report says 70 percent of the 1.2 billion dollar deficit is due to lower than expected income tax receipts. The document also said the budget problem will grow even larger in the future with a projected budget deficit of $5.4 billion in the 2012-2013 budget.
The forecast means Governor Pawlenty and DFL lawmakers will have to cut spending or increase revenue to balance the state's budget. In July, Pawlenty unilaterally cut $2.7 billion in spending after he couldn't reach a budget deal with the Legislature. Lawmakers begin the 2010 session on February 4th.1 Comments)
The rest of the week looks to be light on political news. But the next few weeks could be brutal for state government.
On Monday, the Jobs Task Force will meet to discuss the state's unemployment picture, the availability of credit in the current markets and the debt service guidelines in Minnesota.
The Economic forecast will be released on Wednesday and no one is expecting the news to be good. Last Tuesday, Governor Pawlenty suggested that it could be a "pretty significant revenue shortfall" which will make the upcoming session more challenging than people expect."
Feast on that.
Gov. Pawlenty talked about the Vikings stadium issue, the budget forecast and his holiday plans during a brief q and a with reporters after his Thanksgiving newser.
For those wondering the real blood was spilled earlier in the newser (and yes, I missed the shot).
You can, however, watch Pawlenty talk turkey here:
Pawlenty said he's headed to Lansing, Michigan for the Michigan Prayer Breakfast on
Tuesday next week Thursday morning. The budget forecast will be released on Wednesday. He's then headed to Chicago, IL on Thursday for a fundraiser for his PAC.
Meanwhile, a Des Moines Register poll says 73 percent of those polled in Iowa are "not sure" about Pawlenty. 17 percent have a favorable view of him while ten percent have an unfavorable view of him.
Side note: What do you think of the video? Is it better than the audio of the newsers? Worse? Let me know...(1 Comments)
DFL Rep. Tim Walz and GOP Rep. Erik Paulsen appeared at a news conference this morning with representatives from various labor unions and the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce. The group is urging the Minnesota Legislature to repeal a moratorium on the expansion of nuclear power plants in Minnesota. They said the state's future energy needs could be met by a new nuclear plant -- something they say is safer than past nuclear projects.
Here's the audio of the news conference: Listen
DFL Rep. Bill Hilty of Finlayson isn't convinced. Hilty said he's not against the expansion of nuclear power but wants proof that it's "capable of being brought online on time, on budget and at a reasonable cost to rate payers:"
"As soon as anyone anywhere on the planet can demonstrate that this next generation of reactors is capable of being built on time, on budget and at a reasonable cost of electricity then it's time for us to look at it but Minnesota does not need to be a nuclear guinea pig."
The issue will be one to watch in the upcoming legislative session. The Minnesota Senate passed an amendment last session that would remove the moratorium but similar efforts were defeated in the Minnesota House on a 72 to 60 vote.
DFL Rep. Tim Walz and GOP Rep. Erik Paulsen will hold a news conference in St. Paul this morning to call on Minnesota to end its moratorium on the production of nuclear power plants. They will be joined by members of the Building and Trades Council Union and the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce.
Minnesota has banned the expansion of nuclear power plants in 1994 but an effort to repeal the moratorium has been gaining steam in recent years. The Minnesota Senate passed the effort last year and it was narrowly defeated in the Minnesota House. Critics of the moratorium say nuclear energy should be considered "clean power" and would help provide power to an energy hungry nation. The Washington Post reports this morning that nuclear power is gaining support from the Obama Administration and Democrats in Congress.
But opponents of nuclear power who support of the moratorium in Minnesota argue that nuclear power is too expensive and is too dangerous.
There are two nuclear power plants in Minnesota - in Red Wing (GOP Rep. John Kline's district) and in Monticello (GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann's district).
Today's key question: Will Paulsen or Walz support a nuclear power plant in their district?(6 Comments)
DFL state Sen. Satveer Chaudhary, Fridley, will attend a White House dinner tonight that honors India Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Chaudhary, whose parents emigrated to the U.S. from India in the 1960s, became the first Asian-Indian senator in American history.
"I'm honored to be invited to attend this noteworthy event," said Sen. Chaudhary in a news release. "The event highlights the strong and growing economic and political partnership between India and the United States, as well as the friendship between the two countries."
You can read more about the White House state dinner (the first under an Obama Administration) here.
MPR News has found that more than a third of the state's school districts have been forced to borrow nearly $300 million as a result of Governor Pawlenty's school payment shift. He used the shift in July as a budget balancing tool.
Interested in which districts were forced to borrow? Check the story with the nifty graphic.
(h/t Than Tibbetts for being a graphics guru)
The Minnesota House filed its friend of the court brief in a lawsuit challenging Gov. Pawlenty's unallotment power.
The brief says Pawlenty has no precedent in Minnesota history, exceeded his authority under the statute and unconstitutionally delegates powers to the executive.
You can read it here.
The Republican Party and GOP local party units were the biggest user of a campaign program that was cut by Governor Pawlenty. The program gave donors tax refunds for part of their contributions. AP has a story here.
Here's the breakdown in Party contributions:
Republican Party and local party units - 42,469 contributions with $2,895,729 refunded.
DFL Party and local party units - 20,841 contributions with $1,107,660 refunded.
Independence Party and local party units - 175 contributions with $11,376 refunded.
Green Party and local party units- 255 contributions with $10,033 refunded.
Side note: Donors to DFL Rep. Joe Atkins, chair of the House Commerce Committee, relied the heaviest on the PCR. They received $32,960 in refunds. You can read the breakdown on candidate contributions here.(1 Comments)
Gov. Pawlenty is scheduled to appear at a December fundraiser for Republicans in the Minnesota House. Here's part of the invite:
HRCC Annual Holiday Celebration featuring Gov. Tim Pawlenty
You are cordially invited to join
Governor Tim Pawlenty
House Republican Leader Kurt Zellers
House Republican Members
For our annual holiday celebration
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Town & Country Club
2279 Marshall Avenue
St. Paul, Minnesota
Strategy Session with Rep. Kurt Zellers
Get the latest information on our preparations for the 2010 election
Dinner & keynote address by Governor Tim Pawlenty
Main Reception with House Republican Members
Gold Sponsor: $5000 includes three tickets to the Strategy Session, three tickets for dinner & four tickets to the Main Reception
Silver Sponsor: $2500 includes two tickets for dinner & four tickets to the Main Reception
Bronze Sponsor: $1500 one ticket for dinner & four tickets to the Main Reception
$250 per person for our Main Reception
Posted at 10:36 PM on November 16, 2009
by Tom Scheck
Filed under: Campaign 2008: MN Legislature
The Hutchinson Leader is reporting that GOP state Sen. Steve Dille will not seek reelection. Dille is one of only two GOP senators (Denny Frederickson is the other) who voted to override Gov. Pawlenty's veto of a transportation funding package. What was remarkable about those votes is that Democrats in the Minnesota Senate already held a veto proof majority.
The major action was in the Minnesota House. Six Republicans voted for the override.
Here's what happened to the Republicans who voted to override Pawlenty's veto:
GOP Rep. Jim Abeler - still in the Legislature
GOP Rep. Rod Hamilton - still in the Legislature
GOP State Sen. Dennis Frederickson - still in the Legislature
GOP State Sen. Steve Dille - still in the Legislature but retiring at end of term
GOP Rep. Ron Erhardt - lost his seat in general election
GOP Rep. Neil Peterson - lost his seat in GOP primary
GOP Rep. Kathy Tingelstad - retired in 2008
GOP Bud Heidgerken - retired in 2008.
Gov. Tim Pawlenty is calling for constitutional amendment to cap state spending. His proposal would limit spending to the amount of revenue the state collected in the last two year budget period. Pawlenty says his proposal would force future governors and state lawmakers to set spending priorities.
"We need to change the way that we budget in the state of Minnesota from what we want to spend to what we have brought in the door," Pawlenty said. "Our proposal does exactly that. It is budgeting based on what is in the checkbook rather than what we hope is in the checkbook in the future."
You can listen to his full news conference here:
Here's some of the reaction to the proposal:
"At first blush, it does seem odd, that on your way out the door, with a pending $5 to $7 billion deficit, you would now recommend something that you haven't even proposed to the Legislature." - Senate Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller, DFL-Minneapolis
"If the Governor thinks this idiotic approach to budgeting is such a great idea, I challenge him to prove it by spending in his campaign for President during the next two years (2010 & 2011), only what he has raised for that purpose during the past two years (2008 & 2009)." - Mark Dayton, DFL candidate for governor
"I think there's some serious questions about if we do this how do we then account for all of the gimmicks (K12 shift, June accelerated sales tax) that have been used to keep the state's budget in balance during the most recent difficult times." - Sen. Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, candidate for governor
"Today, Governor Pawlenty once again put his national political ambitions above the people of Minnesota. Pawlenty walked away from negotiations with the Legislature last year and now he is proposing a constitutional amendment that would allow him to walk away from the ongoing budget problem that was created by his failed "no-new-taxes" agenda." - House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kellier, DFL-Minneapolis, candidate for governor
"I stand firmly behind Governor Tim Pawlenty's announcement today and his bold effort to bring common sense to Minnesota's budgeting process. This proposed constitutional amendment requiring that state government spending be tied to actual general fund revenue is government at its best - one that is both responsive to the concerns of the public and responsible with the hard-earned tax dollars that we are entrusted with." - Senate Minority Leader David Senjem, R-Rochester
"Gov. Pawlenty is proposing that we govern the state by looking in the rearview mirror instead of looking to the future. This is a simplistic approach to tackling Minnesota's challenges coming from a governor who has taken little interest in actually managing the state budget to meet our needs." - Rep. Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, candidate for governor
"Gov. Pawlenty's bold proposal for a constitutional amendment capping government spending is to be commended by all Minnesotans who value sensible government and fiscal sanity. While this idea will no doubt face fierce opposition from Democrats intent on hiking taxes and making government bigger, it will benefit taxpayers who must foot the bill for the state's spending. The Republican Party of Minnesota will do its part to make sure this reform measure goes to the voters in 2010." - State GOP Chairman Tony Sutton
"The Legislature has shown, regardless of who is in the majority, that it cannot control itself when it comes to spending the taxpayers' money. I dispute the assertion that limiting spending would mean less money for schools, public safety or other core services of government. We can fund what we need to, we will just have to get serious about setting priorities." - Rep. Paul Kohls, R-Victoria, who plans to carry the amendment
"Tim Pawlenty has once again proved that he is interested in gimmicks, not governing. Pawlenty has specialized in shifts, hiding costs, and calling taxes fees for his entire administration. His newest ploy is simply more of the same diverting Minnesotans from a real conversation about the challenges that we face. Everything Pawlenty has done this year is about his own political future, not whats best for Minnesotans. The timing of this proposal on the heels of his PAC fundraiser could not be more politically cynical." - Steve Kelley, DFL candidate for governor
"Issues like this have failed in other states and really what it does is it forces cuts to quality education, health care and we could see more property tax increases." House Majority Leader Tony Sertich, DFL-Chisholm
"I'm not going to hold back job growth and shackle our economy. This is nothing more than a gimmick, and when I'm governor, I'm going to end governance by gimmick." Matt Entenza, DFL candidate for governor(3 Comments)
Gov. Tim Pawlenty had not yet held his news conference this morning to announce a proposed constitutional amendment, but Democrats got an early jump on criticizing the proposal, whatever it is.
House Majority Leader Tony Sertich, DFL-Chisholm, issued the following all-purpose, negative news release:
Statement from House Majority Leader Tony Sertich on the Governor's upcoming press conference:(3 Comments)
"While we do not yet have all the details about the Governor's upcoming announcement, we fully expect it will have nothing to do with strengthening schools, improving health care or creating jobs for struggling Minnesotans.
This is much more about grabbing headlines than it is about addressing the immediate needs of Minnesota families. Ideas like the one he's proposing have been tried in other states and have failed.
The real killer for Minnesota families is the $2 billion more in property taxes they've paid since Governor Pawlenty took office.
Clearly, this proposal is not for Minnesota."
House Majority Leader Tony Sertich
A lawsuit filed in Ramsey County District Court is challenging Governor Pawlenty's decision to balance the budget on his own. The suit is asking the court to restore money for two programs -- one that funds low income Minnesotans who have special diet needs and another that provided a renter's property tax credit. In July, Pawlenty balanced the budget on his own after he failed to reach agreement with the Legislature on the best way to erase a multi-billion deficit. Galen Robinson, with Mid-Minnesota Legal Assistance, said Pawlenty exceeded his authority.
"The two branches of government --the legislative and executive --have a responsibility to work together to resolve problems. The governor can call the Legislature back into special session to resolve disputes and finish legislation. He chose not to do this although there was time to do it."
This is the second lawsuit filed challenging Pawlenty's use of unallotment. A Ramsey County judge is currently considering a suit over Pawlenty's cut to the political contribution refund. Brian McClung, a spokesman for Pawlenty, said the governor is confident in his legal authority to use unallotment to balance the state budget.
Posted at 10:09 AM on October 9, 2009
by Tim Nelson
Filed under: Campaign 2008: MN Legislature
Fourth-term St. Paul DFLer John Lesch said today he's heading for Fort Benning next week to start basic training with the Minnesota National Guard.
Or the Minnesota National Guard, more properly put.
It's something he says he's always considered. (He is also a former seminarian, and once considered the Catholic priesthood.) He said his controversial and unauthorized trip to Baghdad in 2006 helped renew his interest in military service -- even though U.S. authorities weren't exactly thrilled at the time that he'd shown up uninvited in their midst in Iraq.
Still, Lesch says he's going to do it the right way this time. He's temporarily leaving his job as a St. Paul city proseuctor and going to Georgia for basic training. He plans to return to Minnesota in time for the legislative session on February 4.
While active military service in the Legislature is rare, it's not unheard of: one-time DFL Senate Majority Leader Dean Johnson was a National Guard general while at the Capitol.
Lesch, though, is going in at a little lower rank. He says he'll be an E-4, one step above a private 1st class.
"I have a lot of constituents and many of my colleagues have constituents who have been activated and deployed overseas," Lesch said. "I'm going to get a different perspective about how to serve those constituents and what their needs are."
And then some, no doubt.
Rep. Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove, is on Midday at 11. Zellers was elected House Minority Leader Tuesday night. He's taking over the job from Marty Seifert, who is running for governor.
A pair of DFL senators say there's a deal on the table for doling out the proceeds from the new 3/8 cent sales tax.
It's the only bright spot in an otherwise gloomy scenario this session. The tax is expected to raise about $234 million in the next fiscal year, starting in July.
Tom Saxhaug, of Grand Rapids, said a few minutes ago "there will be an Article I" when the conference committee meets at 1 p.m. today. He isn't promising that everyone will vote for it.
But he seemed confident that the House's most controversial outdoor provisions -- the ones generating some angst among hunters, anglers and the Lessard Outdoor Heritage Commission -- have been paved over.
He demurred on another of the controversial elements on debate over the new tax. A few lawmakers were trying to take retired Sen. Bob Lessard's name off the Lessard Outdoor Heritage Committee that doles out a big chunk of the money. The name "will be in there, somehow," Saxhaug said of his former colleague.
Patricia Torres Ray, of Minneapolis, said the less-controversial parks, trails and clean water provisions are done and look good for this afternoon's meeting.
We haven't been able to track down Dick Cohen, the conference committee's DFL co-chair. But as one of the Legislatures' most ardent patrons of the arts, he's been the most insistent on getting a deal done. Presumably, Cohen will have something to bring to the table today.(1 Comments)
Posted at 2:19 PM on March 3, 2009
by Tim Nelson
Filed under: Campaign 2008: MN Legislature
State officials released a revised budget forecast this morning, including a gap between revenues and projected expenditures that's 25 percent wider than it was in November. The real gap stands at about $6.4 billion dollars, a near record. Federal stimulus funds, though, are expected to buy down the actual gap to about $4.6 billion.
Here's what it looked like as state budget director Tom Hanson, standing at the podium, delivered the news to a roomful of reporters (in front) and lobbyists (in back) in Room 15 at the State Capitol. (Click for a bigger version.)
Here's the full-sized file. The tick-tock on the announcement and what the governor, DFL and GOP legislators had to say, is below.
One of the biggest guessing games in Minnesota politics is whether Gov. Tim Pawlenty plans to run for re-election next year. Pawlenty won't tip his hand until after the legislative session because he doesn't want his political plans to add even another level of contention to the debate over the budget.
But the governor's campaign reported today that Pawlenty is sitting on a healthy and growing war chest. The governor raised just over $750,000 last year and increased his cash on hand from about $375,000 to nearly $580,000. Not a bad place to start from if he is planning to run.(3 Comments)
The first week of the Session up at the Capitol saw a rather, um, unheralded debut.
The state Senate started using its new "reader boards." They're the signs on either side of the chamber that show what the Senate is doing and how each member votes.
The reader boards are known more affectionately by Republicans as "Jumbotron," but not necessarily for the size of the displays.
The new digital signage is part of a system that includes voting buttons for Senators and touch screens for Senate staff. The package cost about half a million dollars and went up last fall.
Senate staff said at the time that the old voting system was almost 30 years old and they couldn't get spare parts for it any more. (By the way, it looks like some of it may have been scrapped out to a corridor in the Capitol basement, if you're short of parts for your own Reagan-era legislative reader board.)
The new one is swank: it's full color and can display photos, as well as votes and bill information. It also displays votes with a "Y" and an "N." The old one used colored lights that were sometimes difficult to decipher on television.
And did we mention the new boards are FULL COLOR?
Minneapolis DFLer Linda Higgins said from the floor that the font hue made the new board a little hard to read. She encouraged staff to change it to something more legible.
Her DFL colleague from St. Paul went even farther. "I find it glary," said Sandy Pappas, after noting the blue-green LED color of the lettering. "It makes me dizzy and nauseous."
You could practically see the shaudenfreude on the Republicans' faces. They voted against the Senate budget that included the upgrade.
"It's the money that makes me ill," said Paynesville Republican Michelle Fischbach, during a visit to Polinaut's World Headquarters yesterday. "You know, the old board served its purpose. The people of Minnesota were able to tell how we voted on a bill, how we voted on an amendment... We didn't have to spend a half million dollars that makes DFL Senators sick."(2 Comments)
Tom Weber reports that Ron Erhardt, one of the "override six" now running as an independent, has been defeated in district 41A.
Republican Keith Downey is projected to defeat Erhardt and DFL challenger Kevin Staunton.(2 Comments)
Reporter Tom Weber tells us that DFLer Kory Kath has defeated Republican Owatonna Mayor Tom Kuntz. This was Republican Rep. Connie Ruth's seat.
Each party manages to flip an open seat.
DFL candidate Jerry Newton defeats Jake Cimenski in district 49B. This was Kathy Tinglestad's district, one of the "override six."
In district 51A, Republican Tim Sanders defeats DFLer Shawn Hamilton. DFL incumbent Rep. Scott Kranz did not seek re-election.
Which is more shocking: A convincing Mike Huckabee win in Iowa, a convincing Barack Obama win in Iowa or a convincing win by DFLer Kevin Dahle in Senate District 25?
The Digest is still in Iowa where the amount of oxygen increased significantly now that the press corps is headed to New Hampshire. Here's an interesting tidbit - someone on the radio said that the Des Moines airport expects several thousand rental cars to be returned today. Just ship them on up to St. Paul for the RNC Convention but make sure you clean the fast food stains off the upholstery.
Was it good for you, Iowa?
The Iowa caucuses are now over. Obama and Huckabee now get the bounce as they head to New Hampshire for Tuesday's primary. Some are calling the victories "an earthquake in the Midwest." Which one of these fine gentlemen came up with earthquake term first - Brooks or Broder?
I'm told that was Pawlenty's last campaign related activity between now and Tuesday's New Hampshire primary.
The Obama organizers in Minnesota and the co-chairs for Mitt Romney's Minnesota steering committee will be talking this afternoon about their preparations for the February 5th Caucuses.
Moving on to other earthquakes (or mild tremors)
DFLer Kevin Dahle also won convincingly over former GOP Rep. Ray Cox in Senate District 25. The Senate (controlled by DFLers) is now veto proof. Don't get all crazy about overrides, DFLers. GOP House Minority Leader Marty Seifert has made it his mission to sustain vetoes.
Cox told the Star Tribune that DFL Rep. Tim Walz and DFL U.S. Senate candidate Al Franken helped turn out the vote on Dahle's behalf.
Gov. Pawlenty and Will Steger hold a forum on climate change today in Ely.
The Star Tribune chases the Pi Press on the new Ventura book. Why all the hate in your heart, Gov. Ventura?:
"I won't put myself in front of them again. I will talk to any other media in America, but not the ones from Minnesota. When I go on tour for this book, it won't happen in my home state. I'm not going to put them in a position to make money off me anymore. When I give a quote, they're going to have to give credit to someone else that I said it to. It's the only way I can strike back at them."
MPR chases as well but says the CIA confirms that a meeting with former Gov. Jesse Ventura did occur.
The Pi Press has a story saying the smoking ban is harming a club.
The former director of state and local government affairs at Northwest Airlines will now be working on transportation issues for a lobbying firm. Transportation -- Hmm? Is that going to be a big issue at the Capitol this session? That's a joke for the more serious folks out there. If you can't tell, I'm sleep deprived and over caffeinated. Not a good sign for a long drive home.
DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar opens an office on the Iron Range.
She's also working to replace the 148th jets in Duluth. GOP Sen. Norm Coleman is mentioned as well.
Brian Davis, a Republican hoping to challenge DFL Rep. Tim Walz in Minnesota's 1st, reports raising $80 thousand.