It's time for Dayton's budget close-up; and if you're an overweight smoker, is it time to die?by Matt Sepic, Minnesota Public Radio,
Hart Van Denburg, Minnesota Public Radio
In the news today, freezing rain and snow has greased up the roads in the southern third of the state. Minnesota lawmakers begin sifting through the details of Gov. Mark Dayton's budget proposal. A Twin Cities business finds new uses for unwanted city trees. And medical experts wonder about the business of saving people who can't, or won't, help save themselves.
SLEET, RAIN, SNOW, FOG: The National Weather service says dense fog brought visibility down to a quarter mile across much of the southern third of the state overnight, with near zero visibility along the Interstate 90 corridor. Near freezing temperatures mean the fog is adding to slippery conditions.
EDINA'S SCHOOL CALENDAR: The Edina school board is expected to vote on a proposal Monday to start school in August.
THE GOVERNOR'S BUDGET: It'll be a busy week at the state capitol as key committees in the Minnesota House and Senate get a closer look at DFL Gov. Mark Dayton's budget proposal. Democratic legislative leaders have generally praised Dayton's approach to erasing a projected deficit, while boosting funding for education and other priorities. Republicans say the administration has held back important budget details.
SALES TAXES: A cornerstone of Dayton's proposed budget is a broader sales tax that he says will bring in about a billion dollars in additional revenue a year. The governor is also eyeing hundreds of millions of dollars in sales taxes that go uncollected because the transactions take place online.
MENTAL HEALTH IN SCHOOLS: Another part of Dayton's budget plan calls for a doubling of state funding for mental health programs in schools. The new money would pay for independent mental health professionals to support existing school programs.
WOOD IN THE HOOD: The emerald ash borer has killed tens of millions of ash trees across the United States and Canada in the last decade. Here in the Twin Cities, Minneapolis parks department forestry crews are removing hundreds of ash trees at the Fort Snelling Golf Club after many became infested. Normally the wood is chipped up and burned. But some are being salvaged at Wood in the Hood.
TIME TO DIE? Faced with the high cost of caring for smokers and overeaters, experts say society must grapple with a blunt question: Instead of trying to penalize them and change their ways, why not just let these health sinners die? Annual health care costs are roughly $96 billion for smokers and $147 billion for the obese, the government says. These costs accompany sometimes heroic efforts to prolong lives, including surgery, chemotherapy and other measures.
IMMIGRATION REFORM: A bipartisan group of leading senators has reached agreement on the principles for a sweeping overhaul of the nation's immigration laws, including a path to citizenship for the 11 million illegal immigrants already in this country.
FLU FORUMS ONLINE: Minnesota health officials have set up an online forum for clinics to exchange information about available flu vaccine. Some clinics are already out of the vaccine, but the viral illness is still widespread in Minnesota, and the demand for the vaccine is still high.
DENIS MCDONOUGH: President Barack Obama named a Minnesotan to one of the most powerful jobs in his administration on Friday when he announced Stillwater native Denis McDonough as his chief of staff. During the president's announcement in the East Room of the White House, the applause and cheering for McDonough was loud and hearty. It is a big promotion for a low-key staffer who has been part of Obama's inner circle for years.
WOOD CARVER: John Beck, a master woodcut artist, draws on the natural environment in prints that capture his modern, perhaps abstract, views of the surrounding landscape, with its wooded hills and lakes, and nearby flat farm fields of the Red River valley. On Saturday, Beck was honored at a public reception held to celebrate his 90th birthday on Jan. 31 and his work, a life of searching and discovery.
POLAR PLUNGING: It doesn't take much to write a check to a charity. But jumping in a lake when it's 13 degrees out to get you to write a check? That takes a special heart. Over the next several weekends, thousands of people will participate in the Special Olympics Polar Plunge. On Saturday, the Plunge came to White Bear Lake. Here's video of an honor roll of people with big hearts.
SKATING AWAY: Did you miss Crashed Ice? Check out this photo gallery. These people are true adrenaline junkies.
WINTER BEAUTY: Speaking of the cold, we've pulled together some of our favorite photographs from listeners into a gallery showing off the beauty of Minnesota in winter. Check it out here.
Matt Sepic is a newscaster and general assignment reporter for MPR News.