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
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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.
ST. PAUL - High schools would be encouraged to step up their performance under a plan Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty announced today in his fifth State of the State address. Schools that agree to accept state standards for "rigor, relevance and results" would get extra money.
ST. PAUL -- Along with Sen. Jim Vickerman's more powerful committee chairmanship in the Minnesota Senate came a set of instructions: "Have your bags packed." Vickerman, DFL-Tracy, is chairman of the Senate Agriculture and Veterans Affairs Budget and Policy Committee, which first meets this week. He used to be in charge of only the policy discussion, but money is where the power is, so his influence dramatically increased in Minnesota's farm country this year when the panel took over budget duties, too. And that influence may extend beyond the Minnesota state line.
ST. PAUL -- Insuring all children is Minnesota House Democrats' top priority this year, followed by making all-day, every-day kindergarten available statewide. No.