Around MN: Cravaack's car; no budget progressby Michael Olson, Minnesota Public Radio
Every day, MPR's Minnesota Today team highlights important stories throughout the state. Find more statewide news any time at www.minnesotatoday.org
CRAVAACK SPENDING $1,000 PER MONTH FOR CAR
Freshman Republican Rep. Chip Cravaack is making a hefty car payment and Politico is scrutinizing this use of tax dollars.
"Minnesota Rep. Chip Cravaack, who unseated longtime Iron Range Democratic Rep. Jim Oberstar, spent $1,700 on an automobile lease in March. His office said the price tag is inflated because of initial purchasing costs, but the 2011 Chevrolet Equinox AWD will cost taxpayers 'roughly $1,000 [per month] for the remainder of the lease.' ... Cravaack's office said he needs the car because of the size and climate of the district, frequent trips home and 'an extensive mobile office constituent outreach program.'"
During recent visits back to the state Cravaack touted the need to cut the budget. He told an audience in Baxter, "It's not that we are taxed too little. It's that Washington spends way too much."
DFL Governor Mark Dayton and GOP legislative leaders went behind closed doors again today but failed to break a budget stalemate. Republicans have offered to match Dayton's desired spending levels for public schools, public safety and the judiciary. But they refuse to raise taxes or exceed 34-billion dollars in total state spending. Lack of a new state budget by July 1 would mean a state government shutdown that would affect tens of thousands of workers and interrupt delivery of most state services.
BY THE NUMBERS
Percentage of Minnesotans underwater with their mortgage: 16.1
"Nationwide 22.7 percent of all homeowners were underwater, down from 23.7 percent in 2010, figures that were heavily weighted by a handful of states, including Nevada (63 percent), Arizona (50 percent) and Florida (46 percent). Excluding the states with the five highest percentages the national average was 16 percent - almost exactly in line with the number of Minnesotans who are underwater". (Star Tribune)