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
- 3 years 11 months
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 - Minnesota legislators may be about to expand a war. And for battles they can't wage themselves, they may seek aid from Washington. The House Game, Fish and Forestry Division Monday approved a resolution asking Congress to authorize war on viral hemorrhagic septicemia, a disease that apparently does not hurt humans but kills fish.
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 - U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann's "death grip" (as the New York Times called it) on President Bush last week drew national attention. "MN congresswoman can't keep her hand off Bush," one headline read. "How Not To Get Your Picture Taken with the President," said another.
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. Two major questions must be answered: How much would taxes rise and what special interest groups would share in the bounty?
ST. PAUL -- A Minnesota legislative proposal to help Duluth city officials cover a retirement benefits fund deficit could expand into one to help other local governments in similar positions. "We can use their bill as a vehicle to help us with our statewide problems," Rep. Gene Pelowski, DFL-Winona, said Wednesday after his government operations committee unanimously sent the Duluth measure to another panel. That's not what Duluth wants. It wants to solve its $309 million deficit soon. "There ought to be a bigger bill," Rep. Tom Huntley, DFL-Duluth, said.
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 retirees. One out of five local governments providing benefits beyond pensions faces financial problems, the audit indicates.
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.
Some items from Gov. Tim Pawlenty's proposed $34.4 billion, two-year budget: -- While the total budget would be $55 billion, the state only has control over $34.4 billion. Much of the rest is federal money that just passes through the state budget. -- Only "emergency" and projects policymakers already have accepted would be included in a bonding proposal -- a measure for borrowing money for construction and similar uses.
Some issues in Gov. Tim Pawlenty's $34.4 billion, two-year budget: Property taxes Much-discussed property tax cuts would consume $150 million of the budget. Of that, $10 million would go to increasing Local Government Aid, a state payment to cities, mostly rural and Minneapolis and St. Paul. Another $47 million would be used to give tax credits to homeowners across the state, with $40 million more going to schools. Pawlenty also would limit how much property taxes could rise in cities that get more than a third of their budgets from the state.