Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.
- Member for
- 4 years 11 months
ST. PAUL -- To raise taxes or not to raise taxes -- that is becoming the primary question for the 2009 Minnesota Legislature when it begins its 86th two-year session today. Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Democratic House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher illustrated the differences Monday as they prepared for today's new beginning. "It's not wise," Pawlenty said of increasing taxes.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota already makes larger payments on its loans than state officials want, but many lawmakers propose borrowing still more money. And if a federal stimulus package includes money for state infrastructure, the pressure to borrow to fund public works projects will grow more. As legislators get ready for their 2009 legislative session, there is a division about whether to pass a "bonding bill" to build and repair state buildings, roads and other infrastructure.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota's local governments receive 30 percent of their revenue from the state, so when the state budget is sick, local governments sniffle. Now, with a massive state budget deficit, the affliction is much worse than a cold. Many say legislators must resort to major surgery to reduce local government funding flowing from the state. With a budget deficit that could top $6 billion, there is no doubt cities, counties and townships will lose state money.
ST. PAUL -- For 28 years, Jim Mulder has looked into his crystal ball and predicted how legislators and the governor will solve budget problems. Now, the Association of Minnesota Counties' executive director said, that crystal ball is dark. Mulder and other veteran budget-watchers are stumped as lawmakers prepare for the 2009 legislative session that begins at noon Jan.
ST. PAUL -- One theme seems to be emerging for the upcoming 2009 Minnesota legislative session -- reform. With a massive state budget deficit, there is widespread agreement that state spending practices must change. "I think you are going to see multiple reforms talked about," said a top aide to Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Revenue Commissioner Ward Einess.
ST. PAUL - The cuts are beginning. Gov. Tim Pawlenty today announced plans to cut $271 million out of the state budget, including reducing $66 million from payments that cities and $44 million that counties had expected to receive a week from today.
ST. PAUL - The Minnesota Supreme Court told Minnesota's two U.S. Senate campaigns and elections officials to decide what disputed absentee ballots should be counted in a Thursday order giving neither candidate all he wanted. A split court partially agreed with U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman, whose campaign sought to ban counting absentee ballots that local officials rejected until specific guidelines were established.
But with incumbent Republican Norm Coleman leading Democrat Al Franken by fewer than 200 votes, no one really expects a final decision this week. That decision likely will end up in court. As of late Monday afternoon, one campaign or the other had challenged nearly 1,500 ballots, claiming it was impossible to determine which candidate each voter wanted.
ST. PAUL -- The newly predicted budget deficit is making it unclear whether there will be a public works project bill in 2009. Known as a bonding bill, the Minnesota Legislature normally would pass at least a modest-sized one when it meets. However, even if no new borrowing is authorized for public works projects, the state is over a self-imposed limit for loan interest payments. The guideline does not allow more than 3 percent of the state budget to be spent on interest. Gov.
ST. PAUL -- Disaster. Crisis. Insane. Unfair. All are words Minnesota's city leaders used to describe the prospect of the state chopping payments later this month. Officials of more than 70 cities filled two legislative committee meetings Wednesday, warning that proposed Local Government Aid and other state payment reductions would have a long-lasting impact.