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Daily Glean: When DFLers spend less than Pawlenty

Taxing and cutting more, Senate DFLers propose a “gutsy but unrealistic plan,” one reporter concludes. Also: tow-truck drivers targeted.

In what the PiPress’ Bill Salisbury calls a “gutsy but unrealistic plan,” Senate DFLers unveiled a budget that raises taxes $2 billion while cutting spending 7 percent across the board. That gores E-12 education, which veto-ready Gov. Pawlenty cannily protected in his big-shift budget. The Strib’s Mike Kaszuba and Pat Lopez say normally friendly teachers’ unions blasted the DFL for $1 billion in cuts, predicting 45-kid classes. DFLers say they need to limit damage to health, safety and other programs. The overall budget deficit stands at 13 percent.

More Senate budget: The Strib quotes a GOP leader saying the tax hike has to hit the middle class because $2 bil can’t solely be raised from the rich. DFLer Tom Bakk says he’d prefer to raise income taxes rather than regressive sales taxes. (Idle thought: Won’t school districts have to raise regressive property taxes?) Salisbury notes the Senate’s budget balances for the next four years, which Pawlenty’s does not. Everyone notes House DFLers don’t support the across-the-board approach.

Still more Senate budget: The Strib’s Lori Sturdevant says the budget fix equals $3 in cuts for every $2 in tax hikes — and the Senate would actually spend less than Pawlenty. Still, she echoes doubts the final budget will look anything like this.

Election contest minute: You can feel reporters’ palpable relief as final arguments wrap up today. Rachel Stassen-Berger notes the Coleman side’s lament that judges have not entertained a looser ballot standard. The Strib’s Pat Doyle says the court still must rule on a Franken motion to toss many Coleman claims.

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The PiPress’ Dave Orrick says St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman was at the Legislature pitching for a new Wild practice facility the same week he proposed closing the Hamline-Midway library. The state would have to forgive a $33 million Xcel Energy Center debt to fund the new building across West Seventh Street. A GOP lawmaker recalls St. Paul’s decade-old promise to pay back the funds. Backers argue the mini-arena will ultimately pay more in sales taxes.

KSTP’s Bob McNaney cranks on tow-truck drivers and the city that doesn’t monitor them. He says St. Paul’s towing contractors have drivers with horrific driving records; in one case, a convicted car thief tows cars; another has 20 violations. The city is supposed to check driving records, but the operators haven’t provided a contract-mandated list of drivers. So KSTP put one together for the officials.

The Strib’s Steve Brandt says Minneapolis passed a revised budget that accounts for local-government aid cuts, but faces a $15 million deficit for 2010 thanks to LGA and ballooning pension costs.

Brandt also details Hennepin County’s planned $130 million transit complex. Perched past the third base line of the new Twins stadium, the enclosed building would serve light rail, commuter rail, high-speed rail, buses, and whatever other mass people-mover we buy next. The county may use $1.5 million in stimulus funds to clear necessary buildings, but wants the feds to pay for the complex that would serve 13,000 people a day.

The U could end free tuition for employees, the Strib’s Jenna Ross writes. Budget cuts will do that to a place. Workers wouldn’t be fully slammed under a proposed plan; they’d pay 25 percent while the U saves $2.5 million. A thousand workers have signed a petition against the plan, but President Bob Bruininks and the regents seem pretty fired up.

Nice realization by MPR’s Tim Post: the state’s colleges have gone a full year without a drinking death. No one really knows if a flurry of awareness caused binging students to slow down, but some colleges make a bigger deal out of combating overserving.

A big Rochester-area biosciences park snagged a venture capitalist, who won’t say how much money he’s injecting, the PiPress’ Christopher Snowbeck reports. Financing has already delayed 2,325-acre development, so the mirage factor still looms large. Still, all parties, including the Mayo Clinic, project a $1 billion investment fund to sustain businesses who sign up, MPR’s Sea Stachura writes.

No shock: The PiPress’ Frederick Melo says Verne Gagne won’t be charged with a crime even though the Alzheimer’s sufferer’s attack caused the death of a fellow patient. Gagne no longer lives in the Friendship Village facility; while living there, he engaged in three attacks.

The Business Journal’s Sam Black says a local developer has purchased the moribund Reserve site in downtown Minneapolis, where a half-built parking ramp has sat for six years. The site has been cursed by, among other things, the original developer’s pre-bubble-burst bankruptcy. Apartments and offices could rise on the site.

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KARE’s Karla Hult says Lakeville residents who bought houses near train tracks are mad that “big black” train cars have been parked close to their back doors for months. The unmoving objects, symbols of a slowed economy, aren’t going anywhere until the train companies say so; cities can’t act. Residents worry about what’s inside the cars, but officials swear there’s little residual gunk.

Nort spews: Beating Northwestern probably doesn’t get you into the Big Dance, but the Gopher men’s 66-53 Big Ten Tourney triumph earns them a chance to upset Michigan State. That win would put them in the field of 64. The Wild lost to the miserable Avalanche 2-1 in a shootout; Minnesota remains a point out of the playoffs. MPR’s Jim Bickal profiles Sid Hartman, with a great “crusty Sid” photo.