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.
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ST. PAUL - Legislators are close to making Minnesota the first state to endorse a compact to restrict use of Great Lakes water. On a voice vote, senators gave preliminary approval to the issue Monday, with a final vote expected Thursday. The House already overwhelmingly approved the compact and Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty is expected to sign the measure.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota forests could get a piece of the pie if legislators and voters approve raising sales taxes for fund outdoors and arts programs. A Senate committee on Wednesday decided to spend an estimated $25 million annually to buy or obtain easements on Northland forest land that private companies are ready to sell. It is the first time in the decade the tax proposal has been around the Capitol that forests were specifically included. However, the proposal has a long way to go.
ST. PAUL -- Monte Bute grew up in the southwestern Minnesota town of Jackson, and didn't exactly have the best success there. He landed in what now is known as the Minnesota Correctional Facility-Red Wing, where the state sent juvenile delinquents.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesotans who think they can cure the state's case of continually increasing property taxes have an outlet for those thoughts. "We want ideas and solutions," said Rep.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota sportsmen, environmentalists and arts supporters say paying a penny, or a little more, on every $4 purchase is a good investment in their interests. Debate on a bill raising the sales tax to support those programs began Wednesday in a Minnesota Senate committee. In the Senate alone, five bills are being considered, although they could merge into one as early as next week.
ST. PAUL -- State and local government pension plans face $4 billion in deficits because they paid too rich benefits in good times, but did not cut them back in lean times, the Minnesota Legislative Auditor's Office reports. While Duluth has gained the most publicity on the issue, other cities and schools face similar problems keeping enough money to pay for retirement benefits. Most of the problem is with health care provided to retirees.
ST. PAUL -- Tribal casinos contribute $285 million to Minnesota's rural community annually, a new study shows. The report also indicates the casino industry is "mature" and not able to sustain more casinos without hurting existing ones. "There is an assumption out there that this is a never-ending industry," said John McCarthy, executive director of the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association, which funded the study. The association is best known for fighting efforts of some northern Minnesota tribes to establish a Twin Cities casino.
ST. PAUL -- Gov. Tim Pawlenty's proposed budget would provide the fourth smallest increase since 1960, but it is one he says is the right size and big enough to give some property tax relief. "The budget we are unveiling today likely will be criticized on the left as not enough and on the right as too much," Pawlenty said Monday in announcing a $34.4 billion, two-year budget plan. The Republican governor was right, to a certain extent.
ST. PAUL - Gov. Tim Pawlenty suggests increasing Minnesota's two-year budget 9.3 percent, to $34.5 billion, while cutting local property taxes. As always, education gets the biggest dollar amount of his budget proposal, but veterans and military programs would see the biggest percentage increase, topping 50 percent. Health and human services programs would increase nearly 16 percent in one of the other biggest spending areas. The governor already had announced most proposals he included in the budget that he released this morning.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota high schools would need to perform better under a set of reforms Gov. Tim Pawlenty unveiled Wednesday during his fifth State of the State address. "We're not just going to pay for good intentions any more," Pawlenty told a packed House chamber.