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News flash: GOP budget numbers not adding up

AFTERNOON EDITION ALSO: Unions upset; Dayton tightens up health care contracts; more Pawlenty and Bachmann news; Sviggum explains Regent financial form; and more.
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To no one’s great surprise, the early take on the state GOP’s budget-cutting numbers … is that they don’t exactly add up. Tom Scheck of MPR files a report saying: “The problem with crafting a budget that isn’t based on nonpartisan research means lawmakers may think they’re passing a balanced budget when they’re not. That means the governor and Legislature would be forced to continuously revise the budget to make it add up. Another budget bill that may not be based on solid research is the House Jobs and Economic Development bill, which would tap $60 million in economic development funds for the Iron Range. That money is paid by Iron Range mining companies in lieu of property taxes. Even the bill’s author, state Rep. Bob Gunther, R-Fairmont, doesn’t think the move is legal. ‘What we’re taking is their economic development fund, and using that for other purposes for other places,’ Gunther said. ‘If it went to court, we probably wouldn’t prevail anyway.’ ”

And in the Duluth News-Tribune, Don Davis is saying: “The major cuts especially irk public employee unions, whose negotiating rights could be removed. Some say that could fire them up enough to help Democrats regain legislative control in next year’s elections. ‘You are setting the stage for a fight, and I am OK with that because you are energizing our base,’ said Rep. Kerry Gauthier, DFL-Duluth. The [Sen. Morrie] Lanning bill contains several provisions to limit worker pay increases and to cut government. ‘This bill will result in layoffs and a salary freeze,’ said Richard Lolodziejski of the Minnesota Association of Professional Employees, the state’s second-largest public worker union.”

Gov. Dayton has signed an executive order requiring a bidding process for the state’s health insurance services. Bob von Sternberg posts at the Strib’s “Hot Dish Politics”: “Dayton issued an executive order Wednesday that he says will help rein in the state’s soaring cost of providing health care to more than 500,000 Minnesotans. Facing an annual bill of about $3 billion to purchase coverage from private managed care plans, the order will for the first time require those providers to submit competitive bids to the state. According to Dayton’s office, that will ‘ensure the state gets the best value for taxpayer dollars.’ In addition, the order will establish a website where all publicly-available information on managed care programs will be posted.” … And why did this take so long?

The good news? Forty-one percent of Republicans recognize his name. The bad? Fifty-nine percent don’t. According the Gallup polling organization, that’s where Tim Pawlenty begins his nomination battle: “Pawlenty faces a significant challenge as a result of his overall lack of name recognition among Republicans nationwide. In early January, 39% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents recognized Pawlenty, virtually the same as the 41% name recognition he has registered in the last two weeks of Gallup’s tracking of potential GOP candidates. Overall, Pawlenty stands in a third tier of Republican candidates, based on name identification. Five potential candidates have greater than 70% name ID — Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, and Ron Paul — likely because they have run prior presidential campaigns or have had prominent roles in Republican national politics.’ And the real killer? “Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann sits alone in a second tier with 52% recognition.”

As an ongoing example of the ideological purity tests he’ll be subjected to by the GOP’s fringe-ier elements, Politico’s Darren Sameulsohn writes: “Pawlenty’s green-tinted history won’t be going away any time soon. … ‘As to cap and trade, almost everybody who’s run has got the same problem,’ Pawlenty said last month during the Conservative Political Action Committee conference in Washington. … While he didn’t name names at CPAC, Pawlenty is referring to Newt Gingrich, who once appeared in pro-climate television commercials sitting alongside Nancy Pelosi, as well as Mitt Romney’s recent autobiography “No Apologies: The Case for American Greatness,” which includes a line acknowledging man-made global warming. Even Sarah Palin, GOP aides note, had to take the company pro-cap-and-trade line while serving as John McCain’s running mate.”  Where is T-Paw on evolution, again?

The Bachmann story du jour is an AP article saying: “More than 1,000 home school advocates rallied on the steps of the Iowa Statehouse, cheered on by three potential Republican presidential candidates who joined their cause. Minnesota congresswoman Michele Bachmann told the crowd at the rally today that she home-schooled her five children for a number of years before enrolling them in a Christian school. She says parents have an absolute right to decide how their children are educated.” … Or not.

Saying you “followed directions” in not mentioning something kind of relevant to the discussion is always a little funky. But that’s the position veteran legislator/Humphrey Institute/U of M regent Steve Sviggum is taking. Jenna Ross of the Strib reports: “In an interview Wednesday Sviggum pointed out that the financial disclosure document says to ‘list all sources of compensation’ but later says not to include ‘compensation from the University,’ among other things. Sviggum, speaking to the press for the first time since the U launched a look into whether holding both jobs is a conflict of interest, said he has been transparent and would never intentionally leave off his $80,000-a-year job. ‘That’s what I read,’ he said. ‘That’s black and white.’ “

Also over at the U, Paul Walsh of the Strib (who seems to always get the best stories) tells the tale of the U sexuality prof who complained directly to Apple about an app by some Florida crowd misrepresenting his work: “Dr. Gary Remafedi, director of the Youth and AIDS Projects and a professor of pediatrics at the University of Minnesota, sent a letter on Monday to Apple founder Steve Jobs and its interim CEO, Tim Cook, about the app. Remafedi wrote that it ‘erroneously cites my research in support of claims that homosexuality can be changed. … Associating my work with that of the ex-gay ministry and other unfounded treatments is professionally injurious and grievous.’ Exodus International, which describes itself as ‘the world’s largest worldwide ministry to those struggling with unwanted same-sex attraction,’ says its app was ‘a useful resource for men, women, parents, students and ministry leaders.’ ” Has T-Paw been asked about reversing homosexuality?

Well, you can write off County Road 101 in Shakopee for pretty much the next month. Kristin Holtz of the Eden Prairie News is reporting, “The County Road 101 river crossing in Shakopee closed Wednesday and Highway 41 was expected to follow, as heavy snow and rain is compounding Minnesota River flooding. County Road 9/11 near Jordan closed Tuesday. The National Weather Service Office in Chanhassen estimated the Minnesota River in Shakopee at 710 feet as of 11 a.m. Wednesday, above the city’s 708-foot flood stage. Forecasters predict the river will continue rising to 717 feet by Tuesday.”

Vikings coach Leslie Frazier is in the news saying he prefers the team draft a quarterback in next month’s draft. The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Jonathan Tamari is writing: “Kevin Kolb’s availability has perked up ears in Minnesota and Seattle, backing the Eagles’ assertion that there already is interest brewing in their backup quarterback. ‘You have to consider a guy like Kevin if he becomes available. He’ll be a part of the conversation as well if that were to occur,” Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said Tuesday at the NFL owners meetings.”