The DFL will not propose an alternative to Gov. Pawlenty’s budget, the PiPress’ Bill Salisbury reports. Instead, says Assistant Senate Majority Leader Tarryl Clark, Dems will mark up the governor’s budget after the March 3 revenue forecast; there’s an April 16 bill deadline. This month, leaders will stage a two-week roadshow asking citizens for ideas. GOP quipster Marty Seifert dubs it the “misery tour” to beat the bushes for doe-eyed budget victims. DFLers deny that and want the trip to be bipartisan. We’ll see.
The Strib’s Pat Lopez says the governor’s plan to halve the state’s corporate income tax rate probably makes sense, but not necessarily for job creation. While the tax isn’t fair and hard to audit, it brings in a billion bucks a year that isn’t being replaced. The decreases may be too marginal year-to-year to boost jobs in the short term. These stories always talk about our “second-highest rate in the country” but not the effective rate when payments are finally made.
At least as currently constituted, the Perpich School for the Arts appears to be a goner, if bipartisan quotes unearthed by the Strib’s Norman Draper are any indication. DFLers and Republicans are open to the idea of slicing $4.5 million from the boarding school’s annual budget; it faces a 31 percent cut in 2010 and must survive as a regular charter. The school was created in 1985; any famous alums?
Meanwhile, the PiPress’ Dennis Lein says the share of the 2010 budget going to conservation is less than half what it was in 2001. Next year, the amount will be less than 1 percent of total spending; a decade earlier, it was 2.25 percent. How convenient we have that new habitat-arts sales tax money.
Norm Coleman accuses Star Tribune reporters of grandstanding when they confronted him with early questions about donor Nasser Kazeminy trying to funnel dollars to the senator’s wife, WCCO’s Esme Murphy reports. Minnesota Independent’s Chris Steller says Coleman all but alleged the move — filmed by DFL trackers — cost him the Nov. 4 Senate election. “That could’ve been a quiet story … that came out the day after the election,” Norm says. But did Norm’s office refuse to talk to reporters when they made initial inquiries, thus forcing the public confrontation?
Facing growing complaints about unasked-for phonebooks left on doorsteps, QwestDex has installed an opt-out plan, the Strib’s Tom Meersman reports. One detractor, Ed Kohler, has labeled the deliveries “phone book spam.” However, on his blog, Kohler’s reaction to the story isn’t flattering: “StarTribune writes PR Piece for QwestDex.” His complaint is that the opt-out policy is byzantine and ineffective and doesn’t include all three phone book publishers. It’s only meant to deflate legislative interest in mandating opt-outs.
The Downtown (Mpls.) Journal’s Michelle Bruch says in the wake of Target’s headquarters cutbacks, skyway traffic will drop 5 percent. Only five of downtown’s top 20 employers are adding staff; winners include Capella University and Xcel Energy. By the way, Minneapolis’ unemployment rate, at 6 percent, is below the state’s (6.9 percent) and nation’s (7.2 percent).
MPR’s Dan Olson says Duluth Congressman Jim Oberstar wants to eliminate a little-known transit codicil called the Cost-Effectiveness Index. CEI is a way to limit per-passenger subsidies, but critics say it doesn’t account for other benefits, such as more efficient land use. President Obama could wipe out CEI with a stroke of an administrative pen. However, index supporters scream getting rid of the standard would mean higher transit operating costs going forward.
MPR’s Martin Moylan says local broadcasters are split over delaying Feb. 17’s digital TV switchover. Should they choose to keep broadcasting to the rabbit-ears crowd, Minnesota TV types face fines of more than $1,000 a day, assuming Congress doesn’t push back the date. Twin Cities Public TV says it would cost $10,000 a month; there are apparently equipments costs beyond the fine.
Freak beat: The upstanding burghers of Greenfield are freaking each other out by carrying loaded guns in City Hall, the Strib’s Herón Márquez Estrada reports. The pistol-packin’ council members all have proper permits, but say things like, “”I haven’t [carried a gun to] the last couple of meetings. But I plan to start doing so again … There are a couple of people there I have concerns about.” Not surprisingly, these folks don’t always work well together.
News of the weird: Some drunken racist dude punched a Russian ballerina and a black security guard in downtown Minneapolis, the Strib’s Chao Xiong reports. The Plymouth man wasn’t happy the Russians, in town for a performance, were speaking Russian to each other, and verbally ripped blacks and gays. This was after he and buddies commandeered a limo. The suspect’s race wasn’t given, but we can guess. The victims, including the ballerina with a knot on her head, were OK.
Nort spews: The KG-less Celtics beat the Wolves 109-101; Britt Robson’s take here. And the Arizona Cardinals were almost Larry Fitzgerald-less, but his fourth-quarter heroics went for naught as Pittsburgh won, 27-23; the Strib’s Mark Craig has Junior’s quotes here. We’ll have to wait and see what dad thinks.