DFLers failed to override two gubernatorial vetoes on the penultimate legislative day. Republicans upheld a $381 million health care cut for 35,000 of the poorest of the poor; tearful DFLers said people would die on the streets, Forum’s Don Davis writes; the GOP hopes charity will work — just as it does in low-tax states, right?
More non-override: According to AP, Republicans say DFLers should’ve prioritized; they did, putting poor folks over upper-income tax protection. The Strib’s Lori Sturdevant quotes a DFL economist claiming cuts will produce bigger job losses than taxes; guess we’ll see at least half of that equation. WCCO’s Pat Kessler has good video and analysis of anguished demonstrators and the legislative tears.
Still more non-override: The PiPress’ Bill Salisbury says the guv hopes for comprehensive reform in the 2010 session. But even though the cuts don’t kick in until 2011, hospitals will begin cutting right away to save money — just like the governor will unallot right away even though we’re at the start of a biennium. Duluth hospitals face a $20 million cut, Davis notes; the St. Cloud Times’ Lawrence Schumacher says St. Cloud Hospital faces a $12.3 million bite. Hennepin County Medical Center is staring at a whopping $108 million loss, Sturdevant notes.
Even more non-override: MPR’s Tom Scheck quotes reformed Republican overrider Jim Abeler saying something else would just get cut; that’s because Republicans — and two Dems (Winona’s Gene Pelowski and Austin’s Jeanne Poppe) — sided with Republicans to uphold Gov. Pawlenty’s veto of upper-income tax hikes and higher booze levies. Politics in Minnesota has an exhaustive Sunday-session run-down, including news about teacher pension bailout being torn from a larger bill (more, please) and continued haggling over the disposition of sales-tax proceeds for the outdoors.
Today’s dealing: Scheck notes Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher and gubernatorial spokesman Brian McClung traded barbs over Twitter; the sides didn’t meet Sunday but a meatspace confab is likely today. Scheck says chances for an agreement today are bleak, but the PiPress’ Bill Salisbury says both sides could make an 11th-hour deal. However, the Strib’s Pat Lopez quotes DFL House Majority Leader Tony Sertich saying Dems will insist on tax hike before making deeper cuts.
Davis says there may be a legal case against unallotment, on the grounds it can only be used at the end of a budget cycle, not at the beginning. That seems a longshot, given that the law only requires receipts to be less than anticipated. Still, House Research says “there may be constitutional limits that courts have yet to decide.”
Davis offers the best list of bonding projects signed and vetoed. Lots of college building projects are nixed, including the U’s Bell Museum, but commuter rail and a Duluth airport upgrade survived. Overall, Pawlenty took a $361 million bill down to $276 million. Schumacher notes funds for St. Cloud and Mankato convention center expansions, plus Minneapolis’ Shubert Theater, also got axed.
Back to the health beat for a moment: MPR’s Tom Robertson charts the growing doctor shortage in rural Minnesota. Bemidji is growing but has fewer family docs; one clinic has lost five of 13 practitioners in six years. International Falls is without a psychiatrist. To plug the gap, recruiting is fierce and five-figure bonuses are common. One wonders what nine-figure hospital cuts will do to the distribution of healers, especially with the rural population aging fast.
Everyone previews the start of the Fong Lee wrongful death suit. Lee’s family claims a Minneapolis cop gunned Lee down illegally in 2006; the PiPress’ David Hanners has the best scene-setter, noting the cop initially had no reason to target Lee, and just followed him to “see what happens.” The cops claim a gun was passed during a chase, but there was no bullet in the chamber of the weapon that was found without fingerprints or DNA.
More Lee trial: The family’s witness list has 100 names, and a fellow cop has lawyered up. MPR’s Brandt Williams says a forensic surveillance tape expert can’t offer testimony there wasn’t a gun.
In a story on tough economic times, MPR’s Sasha Aslanian notes the number of child support payments dunned from unemployment checks has doubled this year. So many people are reworking deals that the county has instituted three weekly walk-in clinics to help.
The Strib’s Steve Brandt notes Minneapolis taxi fares will rebound to $2.35 per mile after slipping to $2 March 1. That’ll mean more expensive cab rides to the airport, since MSP ties its fares to the highest twin city. The cost of a Mill City cab had gone down thanks to a new index tied to fuel prices, but the Minneapolis City Council is altering that quickly. A five-mile ride will rise from $12.10 to $13.78.
The Strib’s Aimee Blanchette has a fascinating piece on a foreign exchange student who claims he was cheated out of $1,000 by a Minnesota host family. The Secretary of State’s office says the sponsoring organization, CENTUSA, is doing a lousy job of placing and monitoring such students; multiple school districts report problems, although the Norwegian student was legitimately warned for drinking. The organization can’t back up claims it upheld its standards.
Northwest Minnesota is a fairly conservative place, but Lutheran bishops there almost endorsed letting monogamous, non-celibate gays join the clergy, Forum’s J. Shane Mercer reports. The 225-223 synod vote against shocked everyone with its closeness; the margin was skinnier than the “no” vote in North Dakota. A churchwide assembly will make the ultimate call in August.
AP profiles St. Paul’s serial church suer Jeffrey Anderson, who’s adapting his practice now that Catholic clergy child-abuse cases are waning. With abuse cases down a third in seven years, Anderson is now suing bishops for fraud and even the Vatican itself in an attempt to find new victims. Church officials say he’ll be an antagonist as long as they have a treasury. Anderson says he has 100-200 clients in 20 states.
The Strib’s Bill McAuliffe writes about early lilac blooming as a sign of global warming. For personal reasons, this is something I’ve long noticed. I grew up in Des Moines, where the lilacs bloomed around my birthday (May 4). When I moved up to Minnesota 30 years ago, I noticed they bloomed on my sister’s birthday (May 19). But in the past decade, they’ve been blooming on my birthday more and more. By the way, happy early birthday, sis!
Nort spews: Whatever Twins-killing kryptonite was in the old Yankee stadium appears to have been tripled in the new one, following Minnesota’s third straight walk-off defeat. Johnny Damon hit the 11th-run blast off Jesse Crain, and the Twins are three games out of first. They’ll hope for better Tuesday, when they travel to play the White Sox.